Masdar City, one of the world’s most sustainable urban communities, and DANA, the Abu Dhabi-based venture builder and investment platform, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to advance food security at the national level.
Under the agreement, DANA, which supports women-led startups across the sectors of agritech, energy and water solutions, and circular economy, will build its first Abu Dhabi-based beta site in Masdar City.
The beta site will test the feasibility of early-stage agritech projects that can be developed and piloted in Abu Dhabi. The beta site will focus on local and regional startups with solutions between the ‘pre-seed’ and ‘Series A’ development phases upon completion.
The MoU was signed by Mr. Abdulla Balalaa, Executive Director, Masdar City, and Ms. Zada Haj, CEO of DANA, at an official ceremony in Abu Dhabi.
“R&D has always been the catalyst for bringing innovative projects to life, driving essential reform, and delivering positive change across industries and society. As the only planned and approved R&D cluster in Abu Dhabi, Masdar City, will ensure these outcomes continue and play a central role in shaping the sustainable industries of tomorrow by welcoming startups, and supporting their projects as they transition from creative concepts to effective forces for good in their designated fields.”
The beta facility will promote local innovation and provide a next-generation platform for startups to showcase the potential of their homegrown agrifood solutions ahead of market entry. It will also ensure companies from the UAE and wider MENA have the infrastructure and guidance required to overcome food security challenges and resource scarcity in desert locations.
Both parties will collaborate to ensure the beta site fulfills its potential as a pioneering studio and springboard for agritech innovators with cutting-edge solutions. Attention and investment toward the most promising solutions emerging from the site will be prioritized.
Ms. Haj said that “We witness the Abu Dhabi ecosystem’s potential on a daily basis, however, the option for hands-on testing of the tech solutions in the field is often missing. For the agritech sector, a pivot is more than just a new line of code, so the product needs to be tested for its feasibility, accessibility, and affordability as early as possible.”
Once completed, the site will consist of 1,700 square meters of greenhouses, net houses, and open field farming, displaying diverse approaches to the sustainable production of crops in the desert. Furthermore, the beta site will focus on developing solutions with the potential to overcome water scarcity, irrigation, greenhouse cooling, and soil cultivation and regeneration challenges, as well as testing the resilience of new seed varieties.