The first version of the levelUP programme saw 10 shortlisted agritech companies go through 5 weeks of training and mentorship, before a final pitching day where Circa BioTech, a food waste management solution, and CODE Three Fourteen Technologies, a company that helps increase agricultural yield, were established as the winning companies.
The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development (KFED), in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA), ADIO Catalyst and Wageningen University and Research, saw the successful completion of the first edition of its ‘Level Up’ project that enables SMEs and startups to scale and reach new heights.
The first version of the programme saw 10 shortlisted agritech companies go through 5 weeks of training and mentorship, before a final pitching day where Circa BioTech, a food waste management solution, and CODE Three Fourteen Technologies, a company that helps increase agricultural yield, were established as the winning companies.
Key results from the program
Alia Al Mazrouei, Advisor to the Chairman of the Department of Economic Development, stated, "We congratulate Circa BioTech and CODE Three Fourteen Technologies for coming out at the top for this edition of Level-Up. The programme was developed to provide a complete ecosystem to help SMEs and startups seize new opportunities and continue to excel post-pandemic.
"COVID-19 has changed how the world works and while most of these companies recognise the urgency of reinventing their business models to remain competitive and propel growth, they need assistance in navigating this uncharted territory. Level Up brings seamless access to new markets, technologies, and expertise to entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs - who are at the very heart of Abu Dhabi’s economy."
Circa BioTech and CODE Three Fourteen Technologies are agritech companies working to help solve some of the most pressing problems related to agriculture. Circa Biotech aims to tackle the high volumes of organic waste in urban cities that are commonly disposed of directly at landfills. Instead of dumping this waste, Circa Biotech upcycles it into high-quality products using Black Soldier Fly Larvae. This results in the production of high-quality organic fertilizers, proteins, and lipids that can be utilised for aquaculture and livestock production and to enhance agricultural growth.
CODE Three Fourteen Technologies is an Emirati-driven Abu Dhabi-based agritech software company developing innovative drone autonomous technologies to increase crop yield, reduce the use of pesticides, and tackle the problems of dwindling food production and diminishing water resources amidst growing population numbers.
Haythem Riahi, CEO of Circa BioTech, said, "The post-pandemic world has brought forth an entirely new set of challenges and opportunities that many new companies are grappling with. Initiatives like Level-Up by Khalifa Fund are crucial to boost the local industry and encourage SMEs and startups in the country to keep innovating and pushing boundaries."
Mohammad Al Moosa, CEO of CODE Three Fourteen Technologies, said, "By 2050, the world’s rising temperatures will reduce crop yield by 2-4 per cent while certain areas will lose crop production entirely. On the other hand, the earth’s growing population and its demand for food will increase considerably. A global effort today is required to tackle these issues and CODE is committed in being part of this global initiative."
Commenting on the mentorship session hosted by the levelUP programme with Frederic Daumas, an industry expert and onboarded mentor, Nabeel Gnayem from startup Agrorim said: "The training by Mr. Frederic was very helpful and fruitful. I gained lots of advice and tips on how to arrange [my] presentation [and] how to [overcome] the main issues fitting the requested demands of the fund judges. We went through the pitching [session] and changed [our presentation] by adjusting the graphics and messages in each slide until reaching the perfect format. It was really fascinating and great for me. Thanks to the Fund for [providing] this opportunity to meet highly professional mentors and [engage in highly beneficial] training."
The initiative is designed to operate in consecutive stages, each lasting from 2 to 4.5 months according to specialised sectors. The format includes two months of learning and mentorship, a forum and demo day, and two meetup events. Apart from agriculture technology, other sectors to be covered in upcoming editions include finance, ICT, health services, biopharma, tourism and real estate.
Through the emergence of innovative and modern solutions, this part of the programme will play a crucial role in increasing productivity, protecting ecosystems, enhancing local production, reducing waste in the agriculture sector, improving nutrition, and creating potential partnerships to diversify food sources in the country.
Keep an eye on the levelUP website for updates about the upcoming edition of the programme.