- AeroFarms®, Madar Farms, RNZ and RDI to establish AgTech R&D and production centres in Abu Dhabi alongside 24,000 farms already thriving in the emirate.
- AED 367 million (USD 100 million) ADIO investment into Abu Dhabi’s AgTech ecosystem will create hundreds of high-skilled jobs over the next three years
AeroFarms to build the world’s largest indoor vertical farm dedicated to cutting-edge R&D, employing a projected 60+ highly skilled engineers, horticulturists and scientists.
- Madar Farms to construct the world’s first commercial-scale indoor tomato farm using only LED lights.
- RNZ to research, formulate and commercialise new, efficient ‘agri-input’ solutions.
- RDI to conduct research trials using plant-responsive irrigation to conserve water and increase crop yields in desert climates and non-arable land.
- ADIO allocates nearly 40% of its AED 1 billion AgTech incentive programme, launched in 2019 under the Ghadan 21 accelerator programme.
Four agriculture technology (AgTech) pioneers will build new facilities in Abu Dhabi dedicated to developing next generation agriculture in arid and desert agriculture. The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) has partnered individually with AeroFarms, Madar Farms, RNZ and Responsive Drip Irrigation (RDI) to establish new R&D and production facilities in the emirate, turning sand into farmland, solving complex global agriculture challenges and expanding the profile of local food producers.
ADIO launched a targeted incentive programme in 2019 to accelerate the growth of the emirate’s burgeoning (AgTech) ecosystem and promote innovation that is locally relevant and globally exportable. ADIO will invest AED 367 million (USD 100 million) in total in the four companies to build facilities in Abu Dhabi, each tasked with solving regional and global challenges.
AeroFarms will focus on next-generation genetic phenotyping and organoleptic research while also tackling the challenges of desert agriculture from its new 8,200-sqm R&D centre in Abu Dhabi. The centre will be the largest indoor vertical farm of its kind in the world and will employ a projected 60+ highly skilled engineers, horticulturists and scientists.
Madar Farms, a home-grown UAE AgTech innovator, will build the world’s first commercial-scale indoor tomato farm using only LED lights in KIZAD. The company is also set to scale up the commercialisation of microgreen growing to help provide a consistent and predictable local food supply that responsibly uses the region’s natural resources.
RDI is developing an innovative irrigation system to transform water usage in UAE agriculture and conducting research trials to increase crop yields in sandy soils and non-arable land. While locally-based company RNZ will set up a state-of-the-art R&D centre to research, formulate and commercialise ‘agri-input’ solutions that will help to grow more with less.
The competitive ADIO packages of cash and non-cash incentives awarded to the companies include rebates of up to 75% on R&D expenditure upon commercialisation of new solutions developed in Abu Dhabi. The packages are being dispersed as part of ADIO’s AED 1 billion (USD 272 million) AgTech Incentive Programme, established a year ago under the Abu Dhabi Government’s Ghadan 21 Accelerator Programme that is focusing on economic, knowledge and community development across the emirate.
H.E. Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said: “It is amazing to see the ‘desert-turn-green’ before our eyes. Our long-term goal as the Abu Dhabi Government is to not only support the development of Abu Dhabi’s knowledge-economy, but also to support the development of innovation that will contribute to solving challenges of regional and global importance. Our Ghadan 21 accelerator programme was launched just over a year ago and already, we are seeing tremendous progress. Targeted initiatives, like ADIO’s AgTech Incentive Programme, foster innovation in the emirate to solve regional challenges and create highly skilled jobs.”
To date, ADIO has allocated approximately 40% of the AgTech Incentive Programme funding in the first year of the three-year programme. The programme is open to local and international companies looking to establish and grow a presence in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
H.E. Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO, said: “Four global AgTech innovators are joining our mission to turn sand into farmland. In line with Abu Dhabi’s long-term vision to grow the sector, ADIO partners with companies that have innovation at the core to help ensure long-term success. Each of these companies will add to our already established agriculture ecosystem, and benefit from our plentiful land, natural heat, competitive energy prices and access to research universities and skilled talent.”
AgTech – designated a priority sector by the Abu Dhabi Government – is pioneering remedies to complex global agriculture problems through innovation and R&D investments. The combination of desert climate, sunlight and land availability makes Abu Dhabi a natural location to develop AgTech applied to desert environments.
There are approximately 24,000 farms currently operating in Abu Dhabi, with many using modern irrigation and hydroponic techniques to grow produce in minimal water.
AeroFarms, Madar Farms, RNZ and RDI
USA-headquartered AeroFarms is one of the world’s most successful vertical farming companies and has expertise growing more than 800 different types of crops year round without soil or pesticides, while using up to 95% less water. The company will build an 8,200-sqm R&D centre in Abu Dhabi, the largest of its kind in the world, with dedicated high-tech laboratories focusing on advanced organoleptic research and precision phenotyping, advanced speed breeding, machine vision and machine learning, and robotics, automation and drone technology. ADIO’s incentive package for AeroFarms includes rebates on R&D and land costs.
AeroFarms’ R&D centre will also play a key role in Abu Dhabi’s AgTech ecosystem by working with local universities on research projects, utilising local subcontractors and tackling problems of agriculture within desert and arid climates.
David Rosenberg, Co-Founder and CEO of AeroFarms, commented: “We are truly honoured and excited to partner with ADIO and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to build the world’s largest indoor vertical farm of its kind, dedicated exclusively for R&D, to help solve some of the most pressing farming problems in the region and agriculture overall. AeroFarms® has been the global leader for controlled environment agriculture since 2004, and we will utilise this state-of-the art R&D centre to conduct cutting-edge research in plant science, vertical farming and automation, accelerating innovation cycles and commercialising products. Our vision has always been to leverage our expertise in plant biology and build on our successful history of collaborating with government, universities, industry and major international companies. We are proud to be a catalyst to help establish the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as a global hub for AgTech innovation.”
Madar Farms is a UAE-based AgTech company, established in 2017, growing fresh produce using sustainable methods. Madar Farms is set to build world’s first commercial-scale indoor tomato farm using only LED lights in KIZAD, Abu Dhabi’s industrial free zone. The company has an established R&D facility in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s sustainable urban community that aims to demonstrate the commercial and technical viability of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) in the challenging climatic conditions of the UAE. This containerised farming solution will quantify production output measured against environmental inputs (water and electricity).
Abdulaziz AlMulla, CEO and Co-Founder of Madar Farms, said: “As a UAE-based AgTech company, it is an honour to be recognised and receive this funding from ADIO. It is a milestone moment for everyone involved at Madar Farms. Since the launch of Madar Farms, we have been providing a holistic approach to sustainability and every day we are working towards achieving this mission in the UAE and across the region.”