Abu Dhabi Investment Office offers startups $41mln in AgTech incentives

ADIO programme focuses on supporting innovators developing agriculture solutions that are locally relevant and globally exportable

  
The Abu Dhabi Downtown Skyline and Corniche with the newly developing Central Market Towers at dusk. Image used for illustrative purpose.

The Abu Dhabi Downtown Skyline and Corniche with the newly developing Central Market Towers at dusk. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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The state-run Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) has rolled out $41 million worth of incentives for three agriculture technology (Agri tech) companies under its AgTech Incentive Programme, ADIO’s Director General said.

In April, ADIO had laid out $100 million worth of incentives for four companies - AeroFarms, Madar Farms, RNZ and Responsive Drip Irrigation (RDI).

Tariq Bin Hendi told Zawya that the AgTech Incentive Programme is focused on supporting innovators developing agriculture solutions that are locally relevant and globally exportable.

The programme will encourage using technological innovation to advance farming practices and improve food production capabilities, whether by solving pre-existing problems or improving established methods.

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, had said the National Food Security Strategy has set a 2021 target of improving domestic yield by 30 percent using technology-enabled production methods.

“Non-financial incentives make up a large part of our packages including access to land and other ecosystem connections to help ensure the company’s long-term success in Abu Dhabi,” Tariq said.

For AgTech’s second around, ADIO is partnering with three companies - Houston based in-space services company Nanoracks, FreshToHome, which is expanding its operational and processing capabilities in the UAE, and Pure Harvest, which will invest in an algae-based project at its new Abu Dhabi farm to grow omega-3 products without the limitations and challenges of traditional animal sources.

Nanoracks is set to launch a commercial space research centre in Abu Dhabi focussing on organisms and food produced in space and on equally extreme climates.

While FreshToHome and Pure Harvest have received significant amounts of funding from within and outside the UAE in the recent past, Tariq clarified that “ADIO acts as a partner versus an equity investor” the focus being on “creating long-term success for companies based in Abu Dhabi.”

“We look at our partnerships from an ecosystem level and one of our earliest considerations is the company’s alignment with our overall objectives and strategy. This new batch of partnerships will increase Abu Dhabi’s Agtech capabilities in food production across ‘land, sea and space,’ he said.

Tariq also pointed out that Agtech is one of the high-growth sectors identified for cooperation under the Abraham Accord between the UAE and Israel.

“There will be much to learn from Israel’s highly developed agriculture industry, and we look forward to tapping into the opportunities offered by the Israeli ecosystem. Likewise, ADIO is committed to supporting Israeli start-ups by facilitating access to all that Abu Dhabi has to offer,” he said.

Promoting indoor farming

ADIO is promoting three high-potential areas for agricultural technology investment in Abu Dhabi, starting with indoor farming.

“Abu Dhabi has advanced desalination capabilities, inexpensive energy sources and reliable infrastructure to offer a resource-efficient solution to existing farming challenges. We have partnered with AeroFarms, Madar Farms and Pure Harvest to accelerate technologies and solutions in this subsector.”

Precision agriculture and ag-robotics are the other two promising sectors, said Tariq.

“These solutions help local farmers minimise use of water, energy and land resources – outcomes very much aligned with Abu Dhabi’s values of conservation and sustainability. Companies like RDI, Pure Harvest and FreshToHome are exploring and deploying innovative technologies in these areas,” he said.

The ADIO official said the AgTech Programme focuses on technological innovation to advance farming practices and improve food production capabilities, whether by solving pre-existing problems or improving established methods.

(Reporting by Anoop Menon; editing by Seban Scaria)

(anoop.menon@refinitiv.com)

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© ZAWYA 2020


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