Emirates Development Bank to finance UAE’s Food Tech Valley start-ups

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Molly Long

The UAE’s Emirates Development Bank (EDB) and Food Tech Valley have reached an agreement which will provide financing for small and medium start-ups working at the Dubai hub.

Launched last year, Food Tech Valley’s focus is on developing innovative agricultural technologies and strengthening the UAE’s food security. Its establishment came after the coronavirus pandemic exposed deep cracks within the country’s food system, which relies heavily on imports.

When completed, the centre will be a hub for start-ups and companies working across foodtech, agtech and sustainability solutions. It will boast 18 million square feet of space and is promised to create more than 14,000 job opportunities.

Direct and indirect funding via the EDB will be available for Food Tech Valley-based companies. Beyond this, the bank will offer support by way of mentoring, knowledge transfer networks, seminars, and road shows.

Hesham Al Qassim, Chief Executive of Wasl Asset Management Group, which is developing the Food Tech Valley project in partnership with the UAE’s Ministry of Food and Water Security, said: “The partnership will further boost the government’s vision of diversifying the economy by encouraging tenants to set up their businesses at Food Tech Valley.

“All the partners on board will help attract local and foreign direct investments within the field to achieve the government’s mission of transforming the UAE into a global hub for tech-based food and agricultural solutions.”

This latest deal seeks to make setting up within the campus even more attractive to start-ups, thereby growing the Food Tech Valley ecosystem, while also supporting the EDB’s mission to “drive the UAE’s industrial development, accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies across the industry base and empower the growth of SMEs” in areas like food security, according to Ahmed Mohamed Al Naqbi, Chief Executive Officer of the Emirates Development Bank in the UAE.

The EDB is a key supporter of the UAE’s wider aims to diversify its economy. Last year, the bank committed to supporting more than 13,500 companies with a fund totalling AED 30 billion (just under £6.3 billion) by 2026.

Al Naqbi added: “We are delighted to collaborate on such a ground-breaking project as Dubai’s Food Tech Valley, which will serve as a testbed for pioneering solutions in the agriculture and food production sectors.

“Through this agreement, we aim to give value-added financing support to start-ups, SMEs and international companies, and we look forward to building new partnerships with emerging companies in such a vital sector.”

The Food Tech Valley is already beginning to support the burgeoning foodtech sector in the Middle East as part of PepsiCo’s Greenhouse Accelerator Programme. Successful applicants to the programme will now be offered mentorship from professionals working with the hub.

More generally, the UAE is trying to attract agritech innovators through its new $2M FoodTech Challenge, announced earlier this month.

All initiatives are in pursuit of the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy 2051, which has a particular focus on implementing resilient foodtech and agritech solutions.

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