Saudi’s AgTech firm Red Sea Farms secures $10mn via new funding

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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Al Dahra BayWa
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Red Sea Farms, a Saudi Arabian AgTech business, has received a $10 million venture capital investment from a group of leading investors in the Kingdom and UAE to develop commercial farming using salt water sources.

The investment in Red Sea Farms, which is based at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) 60 miles north of Jeddah, is one of the region’s largest AgTech investments to date.

The consortium underscores a rising investor interest in the Gulf in sustainable farming solutions that can combat pandemics and global supply chain disruptions.

A group of Saudi and UAE investors, including Saudi Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm Wa’ed, the non-profit Future Investment Initiative Institute, KAUST, and Global Ventures, a UAE venture capital firm, are leading the funding. For many of the participants, this is their first AgTech investment.

Red Sea Farms was founded in 2018 with the goal of reducing food insecurity, carbon, and fresh water consumption in the global and Gulf food industries.

Red Sea Farms intends to use the funds to construct and remodel commercial farming operations covering more than six hectares in central and western Saudi Arabia. The company currently operates a salt-water pilot greenhouse at the KAUST Research and Technology Park.

Mr. Ryan Lefers, Red Sea’s Chief Executive Officer remarked that “We are proud to have designed, developed, and delivered one of the world’s most sustainable agricultural systems from our base in Saudi Arabia. The investment from our new partners will help us improve global food security while reducing the carbon and fresh-water footprint.”

Mr. Wassim Basrawi, the Managing Director of Aramco venture Wa’ed, pointed out that “the Red Sea Farms investment reflects our decade-long commitment to the Saudi start-up sector, where Wa’ed has deployed more than $100 million in venture capital investments and loans to more than 100 entrepreneurs. Red Sea Farms is a good example of a game-changing start-up whose innovations not only can transform markets but improve life for everyone in the Kingdom.”

Red Sea Farms received a $1.9 million investment in 2019 from the KAUST Innovation Fund and Saudi-based Research Products Development Company. KAUST is a leading major innovator of sustainable agriculture solutions for the Middle East and other water-scarce regions.

Mr. Richard Attias, the FII Institute Chief Executive Officer added that “our investment in Red Sea Farms is an expression of FII-Institute’s mission to support initiatives and projects which will have a positive impact on humanity. Our trilogy strategy ‘Think-Xchange-Act’ empowers us to play a transformative role in the new impact economy. We are pleased to partner with the KAUST and leading investors to bring this revolutionary technology to market.”

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