Sky Kurtz (centre), Mahmoud Adi (left) and Robert Kuptas (right) | Credits: gsb.stanford.edu
Pure Harvest Smart Farms, an Abu Dhabi-based agritech business that produces fruits and vegetables in a desert outside Abu Dhabi. The company on Wednesday announced its fresh funding of $1.75 million (Aed6.43m) in the first phase of a $20m expansion round led Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) and Shorooq Investments.
Founded in October 2016 by Sky Kurtz, Robert Kuptas and Mahmoud Adi, who met through the Stanford University alumnae network in the UAE; Pure Harvest has marked the biggest-ever seed funding of $8.8 million in the MENA region.
The company sells to hundreds of customers in retail, hotels, restaurants and catering channels. They include supermarkets, such as Carrefour, Spinneys and Waitrose; direct-to-consumer Farmbox; and the Jumeirah Group.
On September 22, Pure Harvest will meet global debt and equity investors to formally begin institutional fund-raising. The funds will be used to invest in the research and development of new technologies, and expand production facilities in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time frame. Our next phase of growth is to penetrate neighbouring and regional markets including Saudi Arabia and the broader GCC.”
– Mahmoud Adi, Co-founder & Director
Expansion in the kingdom is planned for 2020 and the company has already secured a local partner and land access, a Pure Harvest spokesperson said.
Pure Harvest will also participate in the annual Future Investment Initiative hosted by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia next month in Riyadh to share insights on how to tackle food security concerns in the Middle East.
Kurtz, chief executive, was running a composite materials manufacturing facility. Mr Kuptas, a technology analyst, is an expert on sustainable agriculture in part from his work at the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). Mr Adi is a founding partner in Shorooq Investments and chief executive of Abu Dhabi’s Hub71. He is also the landowner, along with his family, for the beta one-hectare greenhouse.
“When we started in late-2016, it was a lonely journey … we faced doubt, disbelief and resistance. Today it is an entirely different story. We have incredible support from governments, from universities and – most importantly – from our customers.”
– Sky Kurtz, CEO & Co-founder
Pure Harvest’s greenhouse controls the temperature and humidity levels through software and hardware. Late last year, it yielded its first tomato crops. When compared to traditional field farming, Mr Kurtz said the company’s agri-tech model is 32 times more water-efficient while producing 17 to 23 times more food per area. Produce is an estimated 20 to 40 per cent cheaper than imported fresh foods.
“With a full year of operations under our belt, Pure Harvest has unequivocally demonstrated the feasibility of its vision for high-quality, locally sourced, year-round fresh fruit and vegetable production, available at a cost well below that of current imports,”
– David Scott, Director & Non-Executive Chairman, Pure Harvest
ⓘ Source: TheNational.ae