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Mohammed Bin Rashid, Sheikh Mansour and Mariam Almheiri at the launching of the Global FoodTech Challenge at EXPO 2020 Dubai on Friday.. Image Credit: DMO/Twitter

Dubai: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Friday, attended launching of the second edition of the Global FoodTech Challenge at EXPO 2020 Dubai.

The FoodTech Challenge seeks to identify the next wave of technology innovations that are on the cusp of transforming traditional agriculture practices, efficiently and sustainably. Targeted at early-stage start-ups, ranging from international university-based research teams to individual entrepreneurs and small firms, the competition invites innovations in two vital fields: food production; and food loss and waste. The ‘food production’ track seeks to address the availability and abundance of food and explore ‘next gen’ nutrient rich alternatives, while the ‘food loss and waste’ track seeks to ensure sustainability across the food supply chain and the planet.

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The launch event was attended by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; and Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs.

Lab to market

The winners of the Challenge will be offered an opportunity to scale-up their business model within the UAE, supported with R&D, start-up accelerators, commercial incentives and mentorship to take winning concepts from lab-to-market. Applications are being encouraged from around the world, with a priority on agri-tech concentrated nations.

The Global FoodTech Challenge is organised by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Tamkeen, an Abu Dhabi entity that partners with leading local and international institutions to deliver projects that enrich the UAE’s social, cultural and educational landscape.

For this edition of the competition, they are joined by ASPIRE, the programme management pillar of the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), which oversees technology related R&D funding for Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general. The Challenge is supported in each field by a local champion. ADQ and Silal are the field partners in the area of increasing food production, while Emirates Foundation is the field partner in the area of reducing food loss and waste.

Food security

Commenting on the launch of the Challenge, Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The importance of food security has never been more pertinent, with supply chain challenges and climate change disrupting the world as we know it. The pressure is on for us to rethink food for the future, to rethink resilient agricultural practices, and to leverage the best of technological advancements in doing so. The FoodTech Challenge brings us closer to finding some of those solutions, acknowledging the critical role that innovation has to play in addressing our shared challenges.”

Rima Al Mokarrab, Chair of the Tamkeen board of directors, added: “Responding to the UAE’s long-term and far-reaching food security ambitions requires bold approaches that foster creative ideas, newfound models and extensive coordination with the global agri-tech ecosystem. The FoodTech Challenge brings together a powerful consortium of multi-sector partners who drive progress — supporting sustainable, technology-driven, commercially viable solutions to thrive here in the UAE”.

Cuttin-edge technology

Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of ATRC, said: “The UAE is one of the most exciting places in the world right now when it comes to innovation and harnessing the power of cutting-edge technology to help find the answers to some of society’s most pressing issues. The FoodTech Challenge is yet another fantastic example of this with the UAE hosting the brightest minds on the planet as they come together to collaborate, explore, and push the boundaries in agri-tech.”

The competition is additionally supported by Abu Dhabi Global Market, Abu Dhabi Residents Office, The Catalyst Accelerator, and Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.

Applications for the Challenge will remain open until June, when submissions will be shortlisted and the top 10 teams will be given an opportunity to present their business cases at the award ceremony in November. Applications for the Challenge can be submitted on

The first edition of the FoodTech Challenge saw 437 applications from across 68 countries, with winners announced from Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the UK.