The Emirates Development Bank (EDB) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has inked an initial agreement with Food Tech Valley to provide funding for small and medium-sized firms and start-ups operating within the Dubai food technology centre.
According to the agreement, the two organisations will provide finance, roadshows, seminars, mentorships, and knowledge transfer to tech-based enterprises functioning or wanting to operate in the hub.
"By encouraging tenants to set up their businesses at Food Tech Valley, the partnership will further boost the government's vision of diversifying the economy," said Hesham Al Qassim, chief executive of Wasl Asset Management Group, which is developing the project in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Water Security.
"We are convinced that all of the partners on board will assist attract local and foreign direct investments in the industry, allowing the UAE to realise the government's goal of transforming the UAE into a global hub for tech-based food and agricultural solutions."
Food Tech Valley was established in May of last year to enhance vertical farming and other sophisticated agriculture technologies, as well as to strengthen the UAE's food security. The center's goal is to triple the UAE's food output and increase the country's self-sufficiency.
According to Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, the worldwide AgriTech sector is expected to rise to $22 billion over the next four years, up from $13.5 billion now.
The food hub will be divided into four major clusters: AgriTech and engineering, a food innovation centre, research and development facilities, and an advanced smart food logistics hub.
The goal of Food Tech Valley is to attract and encourage new agricultural technology, while also bridging global and local knowledge in the area and establishing a collaborative network to export information for a sustainable food system.
According to Ahmed Al Naqbi, chief executive of EDB, the partnership between EDB and Food Tech Valley is in line with the lender's efforts to support economic diversification and is aligned with the UAE's National Food Security Strategy 2051 to implement resilient agricultural practises that increase productivity.
"Through this arrangement, we hope to provide value-added finance to start-ups, SMEs, and multinational companies, and we look forward to forming new collaborations with developing enterprises in such an important field," he said.
According to him, the deal also supports EDB's plan to "push the UAE's industrial development, accelerate the adoption of modern technologies throughout the industrial base, and empower the expansion of SMEs" in important sectors such as food security.
As part of the strategy announced in March 2021, EDB will facilitate direct and indirect lending totaling Dh30 billion to over 13,500 enterprises by 2026.