Agritech: Abu Dhabi accelerator to promote female startups in Israel

An Abu Dhabi-based company specializing in desert technologies invites female-led agribusiness start-ups across Israel, the Middle East and North Africa to participate in a pilot program aimed at bringing innovative agribusiness solutions to the UAE to help to face the great challenge of food insecurity.

“We share the same climate issues and in Israel we have many years of experience involving technology in the desert,” said Shelley Shahar, co-founder of Dana Global in Tel Aviv. Israeli times🇧🇷 “The idea is to bring these technologies to Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates, which are looking for technologies to support their agribusiness sector. 🇧🇷

“They’re in the desert, so that’s something we both have in common,” added Shahar.

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In recent years, Israel has developed many technologies for the desert in the areas of agriculture, energy, water and infrastructure. According to a report by DeserTech and Start-Up Nation Central, more than 300 Israeli startups are developing technologies specifically suited or potentially adaptable to desert environments.

Founded in 2020, Dana serves as a regional venture capital firm and investment platform for women-led desert technology start-ups, focusing on agriculture and food technologies, water solutions and renewable energy to help farmers to address the challenges of food safety and waste management. It is backed by US venture capitalist David Sable and supports start-ups through regional collaboration, mentoring and funding.

On Monday, Dana announced a new partnership agreement with Silal, an Abu Dhabi-based agricultural technology investor, to bring agricultural technology and innovation into the Abu Dhabi ecosystem and address challenges such as resource scarcity, local production and food security.

A liquid greenhouse in Los Pinos, Mexico, the country’s largest tomato greenhouse project, developed using Israeli drip irrigation and Netafim greenhouse technology. (Courtesy of Netafim)

“The Middle East has a clear and present risk of acute food insecurity, and doing nothing is not an option,” said Katie Wachsberger, co-founder of Dana. “Through this partnership, we are able to better support the amazing entrepreneurs we work with – most of whom are local women. 🇧🇷

“In addition to the beta sites we already operate, we plan to launch new pilots and collect essential data to help grow the ecosystem and encourage entrepreneurs to make their dreams come true,” she said.

As part of the joint venture between Dana and Silal, 10 startups per year from Israel and across the Middle East and North Africa region will be chosen to participate in a program of agricultural projects in the areas of salinity, irrigation, harvest, post-harvest and supply chain optimization, pest control, fertilization and systems efficiency.

“We source from Israel to ensure the technologies we choose provide solutions for the most pressing needs, and we will also conduct a due diligence process on startups,” said Shahar, who is Dana’s chief strategy officer. “The collaboration with Silal offers the right platform for startups involved in desert technologies to grow. 🇧🇷

The partnership comes as International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva recently announced that more than 141 million people in Arab countries are at risk of food insecurity, Dana said in a statement.

Dana’s program works with pre-seed stage startups across the MENA region, coordinating proofs of concept and feasibility tests at beta sites. The Regional Desert Technology Accelerator is currently working with six companies from the UAE, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Territories, focusing on climate sustainability in the desert.

Pakistani-American leaders examine agricultural technologies in the middle of the desert at the Shaar HaNegev regional council on September 19, 2022. (Sharaka)

Israeli startups in Dana’s group include Dayts, a food technology startup that has developed a solution to turn dates into functional, clean-label ingredients for the food and beverage industry, and Viridix, a developer of a watering system for Precision powered by AI.

“The most promising candidates from Dana’s portfolio of companies will move on to later stage pilots in the Silal program,” said Dana.

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