Stock – Masdar City
Masdar City will play host to greenhouses and open-field farming areas for agritech entities. Construction of the dedicated zone will start shortly. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City will host a ‘beta-site’ to test the prospects for early-stage agri-tech projects launched and piloted in the emirate. The project brings together Masdar City and Dana, an investor in startups, especially those featuring women founders.

One of the key objectives of the beta-site will be to advance food security solutions in the country. The beta site will focus on local/regional startups with solutions between ‘pre-seed’ and ‘Series A’ development phases upon completion. Startups are already submitting applications to test at Masdar City. Construction of the site is set to begin next month before full-time operations start by year-end.

“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,” said Abdulla Balalaa, Executive Director, Masdar City.

DANA’s three founders
The founders of Dana – (from left) Katie Wachsberger, Zada Haj and Shirley Shahar – are focussed on startups and offering a platform for them to develop on their early-stage potential. Image Credit: Supplied

Home-grown food solutions

The Masdar City-Dana alliance will offer a platform for next-gen startups to ‘showcase the potential of their home-grown agrifood solutions ahead of market entry’. Companies from the UAE and the region will also get access to infrastructure - and guidance – ‘required to overcome food security challenges and resource scarcity in desert locations’.

“In doing so, several National Food Security Strategy 2051 priorities will be boosted, including enhancing local production, enabling sustainable food production through modern technologies, and diversifying food sources via partnerships development,” said Masdar City in a statement.

The partnership has been in talks with venture capitalists and incubators to offer services to portfolio companies. The region’s agriculture market is projected to grow a compound annual growth rate of 5.7 per cent through 2026.

Dana - venture founded and for women
Dana has three women as co-founders and has a focus on helping startups find their feet.

"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," said Zada Haj, co-founder and CEO of Dana. "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.”