Registration for UAE’s $1 million food challenge begins
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The UAE Government on Tuesday opened registration for the Foodtech Challenge, an innovation-based food production contest launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It is being organised by the Food Security Office, in partnership with Tamkeen.

With awards valued at $ 1 million, the challenge aims to motivate creative minds in the UAE and the world to innovate new initiatives in the agriculture and food security fields. It also aims to develop the UAE’s production capacity by utilising the latest technological solutions and enhancing research and development (R&D) capacity to achieve the National Food Security Strategy targets.

Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, said: “The UAE Government is following a comprehensive plan to enhance food security, in line with the directives of the Vice President to pursue sustainable development. The Foodtech Challenge today works towards this goal by attracting bright minds and encouraging innovators to take part in shaping the future of sustainable food systems to support the objectives of the National Food Security Strategy.”

She said: “The Foodtech Challenge today aims to transform relevant challenges into leading opportunities and projects that help drive the national economy, provide a conducive climate for innovation, and formulate pragmatic solutions for challenges that face this vital sector. This will help achieve technology-backed food security in the UAE and provide healthier, more secure foods with higher nutritional value to the community.”

The minister said: “With numerous challenges slowing down food production in the UAE, the competition seeks to achieve sustainability by drawing on new and creative ideas and cutting-edge technology to implement sustainable green solutions for securing food and water through an agri-food value chain. This will ensure more resource-efficient food production by formulating practical mechanisms that enhance local capacity – mechanisms that can then be introduced to the world. This challenge works to enable the community to supply a portion of its food requirements using smart solutions, in line with community food security practices.”

Speaking at the launch of the competition in Dubai, Rima Al Mokarrab, chairman of Tamkeen, said: “Seeking solutions to the nation’s greatest challenges through innovation and technology defines the UAE’s forward-looking approach to development and diversification. The Foodtech Challenge is a call to innovators from around the world to develop urban farming business cases for the UAE – one that addresses challenges in any aspect of the food value chain. Tamkeen is delighted to have partnered with the UAE’s Food Security Office to deliver this competition, and to launch this global search for cutting edge agtech solutions.”

How to participate

The rules and conditions of the challenge include sending a comprehensive proposal that includes a detailed written outline of a solution that address a specific challenge that they have identified in the UAE’s agricultural sector, as well as a one-minute video that introduces team members and explains the idea and how it can be implemented.

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The Foodtech Challenge provides individuals, researchers, companies, scientific institutions and universities the opportunity to contribute to finding feasible scientific solutions and launching pioneering food production projects using effective technological and economic solutions.

The challenge’s judging panel comprises prominent international technology and economics experts who will evaluate the submitted ideas and choose the best ones to be implemented. Plans to put these ideas into working practice will then be developed for each project. By the end of the challenge in April 2020, four winning teams will be announced across two categories: ‘Household Farming and ‘Community Farming.’