$ 10 million investment for Saudi saltwater producers Red Sea Farms
Hydroponics using mainly salt water offers great opportunities for the greenhouse industry. This is why Red Sea Farms, a Saudi AgTech company whose technology allows it to do so, today received a $ 10 million venture capital investment from a group of leading Saudi and UAE investors. plan.
The investment in Red Sea Farms, which is based at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) 60 miles north of Jeddah, is one of the region’s largest AgTech investments to date. The consortium reflects the growing interest of investors in the Gulf for sustainable agricultural solutions capable of tackling pandemics and disruptions in the global supply chain.
The funding is led by a group of Saudi and UAE investors, including the entrepreneurial arm of Aramco Wa’ed, the nonprofit Future Investment Initiative Institute foundation, KAUST and Global Ventures, an UAE venture capital group. Funding is one of the first AgTech investments for many participants.
Red Sea Farms was established in 2018 with the goal of reducing food insecurity, carbon and freshwater consumption in the global and Gulf food sectors. The company’s unique end-to-end cultivation system primarily uses salt water, reducing freshwater consumption by 85-90%. Thanks to a patented system of new solar technologies and more efficient growth monitoring, salt water replaces the fresh water typically used to cool greenhouses and irrigate crops.
“Red Sea Farms cropping systems can be quickly and easily scaled up in climates such as the Middle East, where conventional farming methods are not possible or cost effective. We initially use its technology to grow and sell tomatoes in Saudi Arabia, but eventually plan to sell complete turnkey cultivation systems to buyers around the world, ”says the Red Sea Farms team.
“We plan to use the funding to build and modernize more than six hectares of commercial farms in central and western Saudi Arabia.” The company currently operates a pilot saltwater greenhouse at the KAUST Research and Technology Park.
“We are proud to have designed, developed and delivered one of the world’s most sustainable farming systems from our base in Saudi Arabia,” said Ryan Lefers, Managing Director of Red Sea, who, along with Professors Mark Tester, chief scientist and Derya Baran, engineer director, co-founder of Red Sea Farms. “The investment of our new partners will help us improve global food security while reducing the carbon and freshwater footprint. “
Wassim Basrawi, Managing Director of Aramco venture Wa’ed, said: “Red Sea Farms’ investment reflects our ten-year commitment to the Saudi start-up sector, where Wa’ed has deployed more than 100 million dollars in venture capital investments and loans to over 100 entrepreneurs. Red Sea Farms is a good example of a revolutionary start-up whose innovations can not only transform markets, but also improve the lives of everyone in the Kingdom.
The investment is the FII Institute’s first in the AgTech sector. Richard Attias, President and CEO of the FII Institute, said: “Our investment in Red Sea Farms is an expression of the mission of the FII Institute to support initiatives and projects that will have a positive impact on the humanity. Our “Think-Xchange-Act” trilogy strategy enables us to play a transformative role in the new impact economy. We are excited to partner with King Abdullah University for Science and Technology and leading investors to bring this revolutionary technology to market. “
Kevin Cullen, Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development at KAUST where Red Sea Farms was developed, said: “KAUST is fueling an emerging ecosystem of high-tech start-ups in Saudi Arabia – and Red Sea Farms is helping lead this revolution. The start-up is the product of many years of research in KAUST laboratories, now commercialized and poised to change the face of agriculture in the Middle East and other water-poor regions.
Global Ventures General Partner Noor Sweid said, “We are delighted to partner with Red Sea Farms. With the depletion of land resources at an alarming rate, food and water security has become an urgent global challenge. Fueled by KAUST’s ecosystem of science and technology knowledge, Red Sea Farms envisions sustainable and innovative ways to address these issues in the region and around the world, with the ultimate goal of leaving our planet better than we have ever had. found for generations to come.
A spin-out of KAUST advised by the Kirchner Group, Red Sea Farms was originally founded by Tester, a plant specialist, and Lefers, an expert in agricultural engineering. The couple recently acquired Iyris Advanced Desert Greenhouses, a smart glass maker that incorporates solar technologies and optical tuning developed by Baran of KAUST, who became a co-founder.
Red Sea Farms received a $ 1.9 million investment in 2019 from the KAUST Innovation Fund and the Saudi Arabia-based Research Products Development Company. A leading graduate research university, KAUST is a major innovator of sustainable agriculture solutions for the Middle East and other water-poor regions.