H.E. Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi is the Director General of Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO). He leads ADIO’s efforts to help grow and diversify Abu Dhabi’s economy through private sector investment. Dr. Tariq oversees strategic initiatives that support the Emirate’s economic growth and reputation on the world stage. Under his leadership, ADIO has recently announced a US$D 41 million “land, sea and space” project to increase AgTech capabilities for food production in arid and desert environments. ADIO will work with three agritech companies across the world towards this project.
In the interaction with Outlook India, H.E. Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi shares his views on the new “land, sea and space” project, ADIO’s role in creating a global start-up ecosystem in Abu Dhabi, and how Indian startups can leverage Abu Dhabi opportunities to scale up. Excerpts from the interaction:
Q) ADIO has committed over U$ 40 million to develop ‘land, sea and space’ AgTech projects in Abu Dhabi. Can you please share some details about the project?
ADIO is partnering with three innovative agriculture companies – Pure Harvest, FreshToHome and Nanoracks – to develop cutting-edge projects in Abu Dhabi with the aim of boosting the Emirate’s AgTech capabilities across land, sea, and space.
Pure Harvest will invest in smart farming process innovations and infrastructure technologies at its new farms as it explores new and innovative ways to optimise growing conditions, while FreshToHome will expand its farming, supply chain and processing capabilities across precision agriculture and aquaculture to Abu Dhabi. Both these companies are developing cutting-edge projects on land and in sea, helping to create a more secure food future by enabling us to grow more with less land, less inputs, and less resources.
As more of the Earth’s environment starts to resemble the harsh environment of space, there is huge potential in space-based AgTech to help solve key food sustainability challenges. That is why we are supporting Nanoracks as it explores agriculture innovation in space that can be applied to food production in the most extreme climates on Earth.
These AgTech companies are pioneering research into technology to help solve complex issues and address global food security challenges. Their business missions are very much aligned with Abu Dhabi’s and ADIO’s vision of ‘turning the desert green’ through the development of solutions that are locally relevant and globally exportable.
Q) How do AgTech firms benefit through such projects?
Pure Harvest, FreshToHome and Nanoracks will receive financial and non-financial incentives totaling US$ 41 million to expand their operations in Abu Dhabi. The packages include rebates on innovation-linked high-skilled payroll, high-tech capital expenditure, as well as other forms of support. ADIO’s partnerships with these companies will help advance their business missions as we collaborate to develop cutting-edge solutions with innovation at the core.
The new partnerships follow ADIO’s announcement earlier this year to partner with four AgTech pioneers – AeroFarms, Madar Farms, RNZ and RDI – establishing R&D and production facilities in Abu Dhabi. With support from ADIO, these companies have made significant progress on their projects in the past few months, building out local teams, launching new products and projects, as well as teaming up with local entities on research and education programmes.
Each of the seven AgTech companies brings a complementary skill that augments the collective capabilities of Abu Dhabi’s ecosystem.In selecting these companies, we have ensured strong alignment in terms of our focus on accelerating innovation to help solve complex issues, and this has assured mutually beneficial opportunities and outcomes across our partnerships.
Q) ADIO has been instrumental in accelerating the growth of Abu Dhabi’s AgTech ecosystem. Which are the other key sectors that Abu Dhabi is focusing on?
Innovation for the greater good is the driving force behind Abu Dhabi’s initiatives and programmes. We are focused on using the power of innovation to develop solutions that benefit the wider region and world.
Beyond our focus on AgTech, anything that helps the ecosystem and that revolves around innovation is key for us. We see exciting opportunities in areas such as FinTech and HealthTech, and we are committed to supporting companies exploring solutions in these technology-led areas, helping them achieve long-term success here and in the region.
Innovative solutions to enduring challenges are within our collective reach. Abu Dhabi has the resources and networks to help innovators and businesses move quickly from uncertainty to unlimited ambition. As part of our commitment to driving the growth of the private sector in the emirate, ADIO will stand behind start-ups and companies that are aligned with Abu Dhabi’s innovation focus and provide them with the support they need to take their businesses to the next level. Working together, we will progress ideas and solutions that has the potential to benefit those in our region and far beyond.
Q) Abu Dhabi is creating an environment to foster innovative ideas through cutting edge technology. Can you please tell us more about Abu Dhabi’s startup ecosystem and how can startups across the world benefit?
Abu Dhabi has invested heavily into fostering a safe haven for innovation-driven startups and companies by building an environment where startups are able to access the resources they need to grow, as well as the support to get up again should they be unsuccessful. Businesses here can easily access the talent, partnerships and opportunities that would enable them to make their ideas a reality.
Creating an environment where innovation-led companies can thrive has been made possible only because Abu Dhabi’s startup support ecosystem collaboratesto ensure that innovators have everything they need to succeed. Key players across the ecosystem are aligned with the emirate’s overall objective of building a world-leading innovation ecosystem that can accelerate the transformation and long-term economic development.
Abu Dhabi offers a range of support initiatives to help startups from around the world succeed in the emirate. These include financial and non-financial incentives, funding, access to markets and an enabling business environment. Startups can join Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s thriving tech ecosystem; accelerate their business with Masdar City’s Catalyst accelerator programme, or receive funding through holding company ADQ’s startup-focused funds. To increase the ease of doing business, Abu Dhabi’s International Financial Centre ADGM offers a Tech Startup Licence so that entrepreneurs can set up quickly and easily in the UAE. These are just some of the endless options available to startups here.
Across the ecosystem, ADIO plays a pivotal role in connecting companies with the myriad opportunities in Abu Dhabi and can be the first port of call for international startups looking to establish here.
Q) How can Indian startups leverage opportunities in Abu Dhabi?
There are so many opportunities for Indian entrepreneurs and startups looking to set up and grow in Abu Dhabi. The emirate is a thriving economy that offers investors an enabling business environment to help take their business to the next level. Some of the factors that make Abu Dhabi a great place to do business include our enabling regulatory environment, stability and security, access to talent, digital innovation and knowledge-based economy. To help businesses take full advantage of all the opportunitiesthe emirate has to offer, ADIO was established to support investors and ensure their long-term success here.
Abu Dhabi and India have strong business, economic and cultural ties, and startups offer a new avenue for our countries to deepen collaboration. Indian startups can leverage our position as a strategic trade hub, with the emirate serving as the gateway to expanding their reach into new markets. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi and India are steadfastly focused on innovation and we see remarkable synergistic opportunities for companies in both markets. As part of ADIO’s new AgTech partnerships, Indian e-commerce startup FreshToHome will be expanding its operational and processing capabilities to Abu Dhabi, bringing its expertise in aquaculture, contract farming and precision farming to the emirate to develop technology aimed at addressing pressing food security challenges.
There are limitless cooperation opportunities between our two markets, and ADIO is committed to supporting Indian startups by facilitating the right access for themto leverage Abu Dhabi’s ecosystem.