Masdar City, DANA will develop beta site for innovative pilot project at Agritech, testing
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s regional hub of technological innovation and research and development, and DANA, an Abu Dhabi-based venture capital and investment platform, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance food security at the national level and contribute to contributing to the sustainability of Agritech. and support the UAE in achieving key objectives in line with the National Food Security Strategy 2051
As part of the agreement, Masdar City and DANA, which supports women-led startups in agricultural technology, energy and water solutions, and circular economy, will build their first beta site in Abu Dhabi in Masdar City. The beta site will test the feasibility of an early-stage agrotechnology project that could be developed and piloted in Abu Dhabi. Upon completion, it will focus on local and regional start-ups with solutions between pre-seed and Series A development.
Commenting on the new partnership, Ahmed Baghum, Acting Executive Director of Masdar City, said: “Research and development has always been a catalyst to revive innovative projects, drive important reforms and ensure positive change in industry and society. As the only planned and approved research and development cluster in Abu Dhabi, Masdar City will ensure that these results continue. It will play a central role in shaping the sustainable industry of tomorrow, welcoming start-ups and supporting their projects on their journey from creative concept to effective force for good. in the field you specify.”
The beta tool will ensure companies from the United Arab Emirates and the wider Middle East region have the infrastructure and guidance they need to address the challenges of food security and resource scarcity in desert regions. Several priorities of the National Food Security Strategy 2051 will be strengthened, including increasing local production, enabling sustainable food production through modern technology, and diversifying food sources through partnership development.
The partnership has begun partnering with venture capitalists and incubators across the MENA region to provide portfolio services to companies as the agritech sector evolves. The regional agricultural market is expected to grow at a complex annual growth rate of 5.7 percent through 2026.
Zada Hajj, Co-Founder and CEO of DANA, said: “We feel the potential of the Abu Dhabi ecosystem every day, but opportunities to practice testing technical solutions on site are often lost. For the agritech industry, the pivot is more than just a new line of code, so products need to be tested for feasibility, affordability and accessibility as early as possible.”
Founded by three women, DANA has been in operation for almost two years and has served as a venture maker and investment platform for women-led desert tech startups since its inception. The new beta site will highlight the importance of providing empowerment opportunities for the UAE’s founding women in line with the UAE’s National Women’s Empowerment Programme.
Upon completion, the site will consist of 1,700 square meters of greenhouses, grid houses and open farms, demonstrating multiple approaches to sustainable desert crop production. Additionally, the beta site will focus on developing solutions with the potential to address water shortages, irrigation, greenhouse cooling, processing and regeneration challenges, and resistance testing of new seed varieties.
With many startups already signed up for testing in Masdar City, construction will begin in July 2022 before full-time operations begin in the fourth quarter of this year.