The future of Agri-Tech and Food-Tech makes a stop in the UAE, in the week dedicated by Expo to food and sustainable agriculture

Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center has promoted a meeting between a selection of Italian companies, UAE investment funds, and Israeli Agri-Tech startups, part of Startup Nation Center’s portfolio. The initiative is one of the fruits of the “Abraham Agreements” signed just in 2020 between the Emirates and Israel, which, in addition to promoting peace between the two countries, foster financial, commercial, and technological exchanges with a focus on innovation in Agri&Food, of which Israel boasts one of the most innovative ecosystems.  


The proposals that impressed us the most

CropX brings soil data analytics to smartphones to help farmers make the best decisions about when to cultivate or harvest. The startup specializes in developing solutions for farms and agricultural decision-making.

BeeHero has created a machine learning platform that helps beekeepers analyze the state of the hive; it can predict hive disturbances, mitigate colony collapse, and track pollination progress. The startup provides beekeepers with sensors installed inside the hives to collect environmental data and information.

Hargol produces food supplements derived from insects and grasshoppers that give 70 percent more protein than classic supplements and are more sustainable in terms of environmental impact.

Meetech produces synthetic meat in the laboratory, and this keeps emissions down.

Salicrop has developed technology to improve seed performance, even in high salinity conditions, and increase agricultural yields. The startup has a mission to enhance seed value and increase crop productivity.

Viridix has devised a system that continuously generates soil moisture data, sending useful information and irrigation alerts to farmers via an app.

Tevel Aerobotics Technologies is a fleet of flying robots that take care of harvesting in orchards.

SeeTree is a “tree intelligence” platform that provides information for growers to monitor the health and productivity of their trees. It uses drones, satellites, and IoT sensors to analyze up to hundreds of millions of trees.

Israeli startups met with a delegation of Italian companies operating in the food sector in an event organized and coordinated by SVA Group, in partnership with Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, Israel-Italy Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Fondazione Politecnico di Milano and Regione Lombardia at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dubai Marina. On the second day, SVA Group accompanied the delegation of Italian companies and Israeli startups on a tour of Dubai’s commercial free zones, including DMCC, DIFC, and Dubai Global Connect, to develop business opportunities.

In Dubai, the technological future of agriculture and food

The Emirates megalopolis is poised to become the new global digital nerve center, midway between Europe and Asia

According to the website Magnitt, a leading source of information in the Gulf region, investments in the UAE last year, between incubators that give the initial push to technology companies and accelerators that aim to grow startups, exceeded $100 million, for a population of just 10 million, compared with, for example, Italy’s $750 million, which has a population six times larger. 

The four-day work week

Also, in the wake of this vision of becoming the Silicon Valley of Euro-Asia, Dubai starting next year will even change its weekend from the traditional Friday and Saturday, starting the week on Sunday, as it has always been in the Arab world, to the Western Saturday and Sunday holiday, but also adding Friday as a semi-holiday and thus making the UAE the first country, which is also an economic superpower, to officially adopt, by state law, the short work week made up of four days, Monday through Thursday. It is the latest step in the campaign to attract brains and the world’s best innovative startups to Dubai, including Italian ones that enjoy a very high reputation here in the Middle East.

Gianluca Marano, founder e CEO di SVA Group


Gianluca Marano, founder and CEO of SVA Group

New professional figures

The UAE has earmarked a massive communication and financial campaign to attract and have the most interesting projects open in Dubai. “But you have to have a presence in the territory, participate in trade fairs, and have networking opportunities with local stakeholders,” explains Gianluca Marano, founder, and CEO of SVA Group, which has had a presence in the Emirati territory for many years and has launched the figure of the External Export Manager, who is in charge of finding contacts and business partners and then takes care of relations with them. “We are much more than a consultant,” says Marano, “SVA Group is an external office directly in the Dubai market. We are an External Export Manager in the sense that we operate remotely, with a team in Dubai, but it is as if we are an integral part of the startup.”

A thousand new tech companies in five years

The recently vetted Economic Plan 5050 in the UAE seeks to transform the country’s economic fabric from the petroleum and related service industry into a digital economy focused on technology and innovation. The Dubai Future, which has an initial fund of more than €240 million but will gradually grow to €1 billion to support Dubai-based tech startups, aims to make the city an environment that attracts talent and has 1,000 tech companies operating in the territory over the next five years. Dubai received an incredible boost from the Expo, the first universal exposition held in the Middle East and the most mentioned event on Twitter in 2021: despite the still ongoing pandemic, it has exceeded 6.5 million visits. Last December 2 was also the Jubilee of the United Arab Emirates, a country that only 50 years ago did not exist and today imagines and creates the future. This is also why UNESCO chose this date, the anniversary day of the emirate’s founding, as the International Day of the Future, inviting people to follow Dubai’s example in the foresight to adopt policies aimed at the next generation.

Dubai is the new Silicon Valley: all the opportunities for startups