UAE FoodTech Challenge announces top 12 finalists  of $1M global food security competition

  • Panel of international experts assessed over 400+ submissions from a total of 1,000+ entries
  • Finalists to participate in mentorship programme with competition judges
  • 4 winners will be selected in a final awards ceremony in September to claim their share of the $1 million prize

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 10 June 2020: The FoodTech Challenge, launched jointly in September 2019 by the UAE Food Security Office and Tamkeen to seek commercially viable solutions that promote sustainable food practices, has announced the selection of twelve finalists who will compete for their share of a $1m prize pool, which includes cash prizes as well eligibility for a UAE-based accelerator programme.

The international competition was launched to support the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy and stimulate domestic production through the use of sustainable technologies, as well as contribute to multinational efforts to ensure sufficient food supply for the world’s rapidly expanding population.

The finalists were selected from a total of 400+ submissions, all of which were evaluated by an expert panel of judges against a set of key criteria including use of technology, sustainability and commercial viability. The final list also includes two proposals selected for their relevance to specific UAE food security sustainability priorities.

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

Each finalist will now take part in a mentorship programme which pairs them with one of the FoodTech Challenge’s expert judges drawn from the global agritech industry. Following a second round of assessment, four finalists will be announced at an awards ceremony in September 2020 and will receive a share of the $1m competition prize pool.

Underscoring the global nature of the competition, the top 12 proposals were received from agricultural technology companies and individuals based in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Turkey, and Kenya.

H.E. 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.”

Dr. Hanan Afifi, Lead Researcher at Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and a FoodTech Challenge judge, said: “Participation in the FoodTech Challenge extends a valuable opportunity for innovators from across the agricultural technology space to demonstrate their powers of innovation. By enabling the shortlisted candidates to further define the parameters of their proposed solutions, our aim is to ensure each submission is considered on its own merits and addresses the need for resilient agricultural practices. As such, 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.”

Dr. Ramesh Jagannathan, Managing Director of startAD and a FoodTech Challenge judge, said: “It’s an honour to be part of the FoodTech Challenge that is addressing a critical global need right now.  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.  We look forward to mentoring the finalists over the next few months, refining their business value propositions, tuning the product market fit for their solutions, connecting them to key stakeholders in the region, and gearing them up to create global impact.”

The four winning teams will take away prizes from a $1M USD prize pool which includes $100,000 USD in cash and eligibility to participate in the Abu Dhabi-based Catalyst Accelerator Programme, which provides up to $150,000 USD in seed funding.

About Tamkeen

Tamkeen is an Abu Dhabi based company mandated to deliver projects to meet the UAE’s vision of knowledge-based development.  Tamkeen works with a variety of local and international institutions to enrich the UAE’s social, cultural and educational landscape.

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