US-based Nanoracks is building the first-ever commercial AgTech space research programme, the ‘StarLab Space Farming Center’, in Abu Dhabi as a commercial space research facility focussed on advancing knowledge and technology for organisms and food produced in space and in equally extreme climates on earth.
The space-based technology will be applied to desert agriculture to address pressing environmental and food security challenges and to benefit long-term human space exploration.
The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) has also announced partnerships with two other agriculture companies, Pure Harvest Smart Farms (Pure Harvest) and FreshToHome, to develop cutting-edge projects in Abu Dhabi to boost the emirate’s agriculture technology (AgTech) capabilities across land, sea and space.
The companies, including Nanoracks, will receive financial and non-financial incentives totalling $41m to expand existing capabilities in Abu Dhabi’s AgTech ecosystem and promote innovation in the sector to address global food security challenges.
The competitive incentive packages include rebates on innovation-linked high-skilled payroll, high-tech CAPEX, as well as land, utility and intellectual property support.
The new partnerships are a continuation of ADIO’s efforts to accelerate the growth of Abu Dhabi’s AgTech ecosystem through the AgTech Incentive Programme, which was established under Ghadan 21, Abu Dhabi’s accelerator programme.
The programme is open to both local and international AgTech companies. The partnerships follow ADIO’s $100m investment earlier this year to develop next-generation agriculture solutions in arid and desert climates.
Commenting on the initiative, HE Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO, said: “Abu Dhabi is pressing ahead at full steam with our mission to ‘turn the desert green’ and solve long-term global food security issues. We have created an environment where innovative ideas can flourish and this has enabled the rapid expansion of our AgTech sector. Innovations from the companies we partnered with earlier this year are already propelling the growth of Abu Dhabi’s 24,000 farms. Partnering with Pure Harvest, FreshToHome and Nanoracks add a realm of new capabilities to the ecosystem across land, sea and space.”
Sky Kurtz, Co-Founder and CEO of , noted: “We are delighted to have received the support of ADIO to further invest in our home-grown, innovative growing solutions. This partnership demonstrates how committed the government is in supporting and enabling innovative technology companies, providing them with the tools, resources and support to thrive and make a large-scale impact in the region.”
Shan Kadavil, CEO and Co-Founder of FreshToHome, remarked: “We intend to bring our US patent pending AI-powered Virtual Commodities Exchange technology, our e-grocery platform and our nano farm aquaculture technology to Abu Dhabi, enhancing food production and distribution for the region.”
Allen Herbert, SVP of Business Development and Strategy, and Head of Nanoracks, UAE, added: “We firmly believe that space research holds the keys to solving major challenges on earth from climate change to food security. And our StarLab Space Farming Center in Abu Dhabi is just the beginning. We’re building a global research and development team that will produce and commercialise organisms, technology, and innovative products that will not only revolutionise farming in Earth’s deserts and harsh environments but also change the way humans are able to explore deeper into our universe.”