A total of 12 submissions have been shortlisted for the challenge
A total of 12 submissions have been shortlisted for the challenge Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Twelve finalists have been selected for the FoodTech Challenge, a competition launched by the UAE Food Security Office and Abu Dhabi- based company Tamkeen, aimed at seeking commercially viable solutions that promote sustainable food practices.

The global competition, launched last year, carries a total prize of US$1 million (Dh3.65 million). The 12 finalists, chosen for their use of technology, sustainability and commercial viability, were selected by a panel of international experts that assessed over 400 submissions from a pool of 1,000+ entries.

“The international competition was launched to support the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy as well as to contribute to multinational efforts to ensure sufficient food supply for the world’s rapidly expanding population,” according to the organisers.

The shortlisted submissions feature solutions harnessing digital technology, data-based technology, solar-power and the use of alternative food resources. They also address international food security challenges including supply chain resilience, food loss and waste, water scarcity, malnutrition, food safety, and climate change.

The top12 proposals were received from agricultural technology companies and individuals based in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Turkey, and Kenya.

Knowledge-based platform

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, said: “The FoodTech Challenge provides an important knowledge-based platform, through which we have been able to foster international collaboration in identifying solutions necessary for the development of future food systems.”

“We are pleased to see the competition attract a high number of proposals by entrepreneurs, innovators, and bright minds from around the world. We thank them for their support and look forward to working with them to advance the UAE’s Food Security efforts,” she added.

Dr. Hanan Afifi, lead researcher at Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and a FoodTech Challenge judge, added: “Our aim is to ensure each submission is considered on its own merits and addresses the need for resilient agricultural practices. The mentorship sessions will look to identify and expand areas where participants’ solutions promote economic-sustainability, self-sufficiency, and an improved relationship with the food system.”

“The COVID-19 global crisis has only highlighted the urgency of food security as a global grand challenge, especially for the urban areas. The FoodTech challenge has received proposals from around the world offering state of the art, sustainable, data driven digital solutions addressing the key challenges in the supply chain and food waste,” noted Dr. Ramesh Jagannathan, managing director of startAD and another FoodTech Challenge judge.

Four teams, chosen for their solutions on food security and agriculture technology, will be selected in a final awards ceremony in September to claim their share of the prize. Each winning team will take homes $100,000 (Dh365,000) in cash and eligibility to participate in the Abu Dhabi-based Catalyst Accelerator Programme, which provides up to $150,000 (Dh547,500) in seed funding.