We received creative solutions around the globe from students, startups, innovators, and entrepreneurs. From over 400+ submissions, we selected the Finalists to compete in the Award Ceremony in September.

The FoodTech Challenge

The FoodTech Challenge is a global competition that seeks innovative solutions to address food security.
The competition supports the UAE’s commitment to providing its population with sufficient, safe and nutritious food. The competition invites applicants from all backgrounds to join. University students and early-stage start-ups with prior experience in urban farming have been especially encouraged to apply.

What does food security mean?

Food Security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, is “the condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.

What does Food Security mean?

Food Security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, is “the condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.


To be part of the FoodTech Challenge, you will need to submit a detailed business case proposal, as well as a one-minute pitch video.

Click the button below to register on our Entries website and to read more about the competition rules.

How to submit your idea

1. Applications for the FoodTech Challenge are accepted from September 2019 to February 2020.

2. A panel of experts will select the finalists entries, who will then be invited to present their business case in-person in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

3. The finals will be a three-day food and agriculture technology event, including workshops and panel discussions, networking sessions, and the final award ceremony.

4. Four winning teams will share prize money of up to $1M USD, which includes cash prizes as well as eligibility for a UAE-based accelerator programme.

Lettuce from Abu Dhabi vertical farm to go on sale in September

August 24, 2020

Fresh greens produced by Smart Acres, a vertical farm in Abu Dhabi, will go on sale for the first time in September. The vegetables are grown under LED lights in nutrient-rich water instead of soil.


How COVID-19 is transforming grocery e-commerce in Dubai

August 18, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the pace of change in the UAE's grocery e-commerce sector. Romain Olliver, the co-founder of Farmbox, a Dubai-based food delivery service, discusses the company's tenfold increase in orders as more customers shop online.


Forum highlights woman's role in agricultural entrepreneurship

July 21, 2020

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, UAE’s Minister of State for Food and Water Security, officially opened the "Agricultural Entrepreneurship Forum" organised by the Ajman Business Women Council.


iFarm, Palm Co. win 'The CovHack Virtual Innovation Challenge' on circular food economy

July 21, 2020

Innovate4Good (I4G), a platform for the impact entrepreneurship ecosystem, has announced the winners of The CovHack Virtual Innovation Challenge. iFarm and Palm Co. won the Startup and Team Challenge categories, respectively.


Fazenda Futuro enters the UAE, increases production capacity from 115 to 600 tons per month

July 16, 2020

Brazilian food tech company Fazenda Futuro, also known as ‘Future Farm’, is now distributing its burgers in the UAE. To meet the demand in the UAE, Future Farm has expanded its production capacity from 115 to 600 tons per month.


Regional experts gather to address food security challenge in the MENA region

July 5, 2020

A regional virtual conference addressing the challenge of food security in the Middle East region took place in Dubai to discuss the latest trends in agriculture and the opportunities in improving the quality of domestic production.


Coronavirus: Dubai launches hi-tech scheme to boost food security amid challenges of pandemic

June 26, 2020

Dubai has turned to technology to bolster food security in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed, chairman of the emirate's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, spoke of the need to safeguard supplies against future challenges as he launched the Food Security Dashboard of Dubai. The crucial resource, developed by a local government team with the backing of authorities such as Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Dubai Economy and the Dubai Port, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, utilises artificial intelligence and data analytics to track key indicators of strong food security. The hi-tech system spearheaded by Smart Dubai monitors the supply index, stock availability, local production, consumption levels, and the cost of vital commodities in the emirate.


Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority supports agriculture sector with 5 new projects worth AED75M

June 24, 2020

In cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) has developed a pipeline of investment projects worth AED1 billion for the private sector to enhance the food security and agricultural sustainability system in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. As part of these projects, ADAFSA has awarded five investment projects to four major local companies and a veterinary clinic to build on the emirate’s rapidly growing agricultural value chain with long-term Musataha agreement for periods of up to 30 years.


Minister of State for Food and Water Security launches UAE Aquaculture Pulse 2020 guideline

June 24, 2020

"Aquaculture is a core component of the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy," asserted Mariam Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food and Water Security, while launching the UAE Aquaculture Pulse 2020 – a document set to serve as a reference point, outlining and evaluating investment opportunities in the local aquaculture sector. Almheiri launched the new project during a virtual meeting organised by the Food Security Office jointly with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, today, to discuss "Supporting Sustainable and Innovative Aquaculture in the UAE". The UAE Aquaculture Pulse 2020 studies consumption patterns in local and international markets, analysing production quality and size as well as prices and availability to support future investments in aquaculture projects in the UAE.


UAE FoodTech Challenge Reveals 12 Finalists Developing Innovative Solutions To Battle Food Security

June 12, 2020

The UAE FoodTech challenge has announced the selection of 12 finalists who are competing for a considerable share of a $1 million prize pool, by demonstrating commercially viable solutions to support the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy. The initiative was launched collaboratively by the UAE Food Security Office and Tamkeen in September 2019.


June 2020 Newsletter

June 1, 2020

Congratulations to our Finalists, who were selected from over 400+ submissions from all over the world! Our Finalists are hard at work refining their business cases to compete for their share of the $1m prize pool and eligibility to the Catalyst Accelerator Program.


Abu Dhabi Fund for Development launches $272.4m initiative to support national companies

May 31, 2020

Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has announced a AED1 billion ($272.3m) initiative to support national companies during the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative, which lasts for the remainder of 2020, provides concessionary loans for national companies operating in sectors considered crucial to the UAE economy – such as healthcare, food security and manufacturing. It also considers firms in sectors that are bearing the brunt of the Covid-19-related disruption to business and economic activity.


Cooked up for climate, UAE's high-tech food plan pays off in pandemic

May 27, 2020

ABU DHABI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In the past four years, the United Arab Emirates has grown a small but rising share of its own organic tomatoes, aiming to shore up food security in an import-dependent desert country. The effort - part of a broader push to produce more home-grown food amid fears climate change could trigger instability in the global food trade - started after the country was hit by food export bans during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.


Coronavirus: UAE steps up local production and trade partnerships amid outbreak

May 19, 2020

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - New trade partnerships and a greater focus on local farming are just some of the measures being taken by the UAE to avoid a food security crisis amid the Covid-19 outbreak. The pandemic has affected shipping and production worldwide as countries restricted movement and economic activity to limit the spread of the virus.


Abu Dhabi attracts four agri-tech companies with $100m investment

April 9, 2020

Abu Dhabi Investment Office (Adio) has invested $100 million (Dh367m) to bring four agriculture technology companies to the emirate as part of government efforts to attract high-skilled talent and cutting-edge research. Adio partnered with AeroFarms, Madar Farms, RNZ and RDI to build agri-tech research and development (R&D) facilities and production centres in Abu Dhabi, it said on Thursday. Their aim is to explore how arid-climate countries can benefit from these technologies.


April 2020 Newsletter

April 1, 2020

The world has changed drastically in a few short months. Global disruptions caused by the coronavirus has impacted almost all aspects of living, and The FoodTech Challenge is no exception. Still, our resilience as a global community is strong, and the purpose behind our work has never become more urgent. We are inspired by the promise of your ideas, and we look forward to working with our finalists to develop these solutions further.


March 2020 Newsletter

March 1, 2020

In light of ongoing COVID-19 developments and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of participants, judges, partners, attendees, and staff, the FoodTech Challenge will be postponing the Final Awards Ceremony to 14-16 September 2020*. The decision follows careful consultation with our partners and UAE public health authorities. Now more than ever, food security is an urgent issue that requires a swift global response. We in the FoodTech Challenge Team understand this urgency and are hard at work in achieving a more food-secure world with you. We have evaluated your competition submissions and have selected the Top 10 finalists, which will be announced in our channels soon.


February 2020 Newsletter

February 29, 2020

We are thrilled to announce that we have received over 400 submissions to the FoodTech Challenge! Coming from over 60 countries; our applicants are students, entrepreneurs, and scientists with incredible and innovative ideas to enhance the UAE’s food security. Our expert panel of judges are currently evaluating submissions and we will notify the finalist teams by mid-March.


The FoodTech Challenge at Gulfood 2020

16 - 20 February 2020

The FoodTech Challenge team is proud to partner with Gulfood 2020, the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade exhibition with over 5000+ global exhibitors. We are involved in many activities – keynote speeches, panel discussions (details coming soon) – during the 5-day event. We invite you to join, network with industry leaders, and learn more about food innovation in the Middle East.


Seeking Innovative Ideas to Global Food Security Challenge

February 13, 2020

The 48th edition of The Pro Chef Middle East magazine is here! In light of Gulfood 2020 kicking off today, we take a behind-the-scenes look at the biggest event on the GCC’s F&B calendar. Inside, you’ll find discussions with industry professionals to watch out for at this year’s show, plus insider intel and stands to watch at the week-long event.


First-Mover Advantage: H.E. Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security

February 10, 2020

Over the course of my conversation with H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri at Emirates Towers in Dubai in January, there were a few traits about the UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security that especially stood out. For starters, Almheiri has an extremely amiable personality. Besides putting me at ease almost as soon as I met her, this resulted in a free-flowing conversation that had her sharing not just facts and figures relating to the UAE Food Security Office that she leads, but also a lot of personal insights and anecdotes from her life and career so far. Indeed, it became quite apparent that Almheiri’s investment in the work that she does today has been largely driven by the values and principles that her parents had inculcated in her from a young age.


The FoodTech Challenge and Careers in Sustainability

February 7, 2020

"How do I get started with a career in sustainability?" "Do I need a master's degree to advance within the field?" "What if you really love the company you work for, but they don’t have an opportunity to work in sustainability (and get paid for it)?" Pursuing a career in sustainability can seem as tough as defining sustainability in the first place. Fret not, dear listeners! We collected your questions and crafted an episode dedicated to exploring the landscape of jobs in sustainability. Join us as we break down the market for sustainability jobs, relate our own experiences in the field, and share tons of resources for sustainability job hunters. We also connect with Trish Kenlon, Founder of Sustainable Career Pathways, to learn more about specific strategies to land that dream green job.


It’s time to get real serious about food

February 2, 2020

In 1996, representatives of 185 countries attending the World Food Summit in Rome made a commitment to eradicate global hunger. Yet, almost 25 years later more than 820 million people remain chronically hungry... and over 2 billion more experience moderate to severe food insecurity. This includes 8 per cent of the population of North America and Europe.


UAE’s Food Waste Pledge and Winnow Tackle US$4 Billion Problem

February 1, 2020

Through a nationwide Food Waste Pledge, the United Arab Emirates recovered nearly 2 million meals in 2019—and plans to recover 3 million meals in 2020. An initiative of UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), the pledge calls on the hospitality sector to adopt waste-saving and efficient food production practices. According to the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition’s Food Sustainability Index, the UAE ranked 22 out of 25 Gulf Region countries for food waste, with each citizen contributing 197 kilograms (434 pounds) of food waste each year. In the UAE, the hospitality sector is credited with over 32 percent of all food waste.


January 2020 Newsletter, Part 2

January 31, 2020

Thirteen days are left before the submission deadline, and we are excited to read about your innovative food and agtech solutions. Please make sure to carefully review the eligibility criteria, submission requirements, and competition Terms & Conditions again before you click submit. To help you ace the process, we have developed a simple animation to walk you through the requirements. Check it out and remember, the final deadline is 13 February 2020.


UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security encourages participation of youth in the FoodTech challenge

January 20, 2020

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri called on university students at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week to provide innovative solutions in tackling global food security challenges


UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security encourages participation of youth in the FoodTech challenge

January 20, 2020

UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security Encourages Participation of Youth in the FoodTech Challenge. Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri called on university students at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week to provide innovative. - solutions in tackling global food security challenges. - The FoodTech Challenge has so far seen over 1,000 applicants registering from around the world. - Applications to the FoodTech Challenge will remain open until February 13th


January 2020 Newsletter, Part 1

January 15, 2020

The FoodTech Challenge team would like to wish all of you a very happy 2020. We look forward to working with you in the coming year, to help bring your innovative food security solutions to fruition. It was hugely rewarding to see the wide variety of high-quality submissions we received in time for the Early Bird deadline on Dec 17th. Submissions were received from around the globe, including MENA, South Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America. It is clear from these submissions that we can anticipate a highly competitive final competition in April 2020, where we eventually select our final four winners.


FoodTech Challenge at ADSW

January 13, 2020

Want to learn about the FoodTech Challenge? Have any questions related to the competition? Want to interact with the latest agriculture technologies? Want to win some prizes? Come find our booth at the Youth 4 Sustainability Hub, Abu Dhabi Sustainability week. We will be there to welcome you from Jan 13th – Jan 16th, 9am – 4pm.


Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week: local and global partnerships are key to ensuring the UAE's food security

January 2, 2020

A country's ability to act sustainably determines its successful development. In the context of food security, sustainability means enabling all citizens and residents to have access to sufficient nutritious food at affordable prices at all times.



Our Judges and Mentors

Maria Helena Semedo
Deputy Director-General
Food and Agriculture Organization
Danielle Nierenberg
Co-Founder and President
Food Tank
David Rosenberg
CEO and Co-Founder
H.E. Rashed Al Shuraiqi
Senior Advisor for Agriculture
Al Dahra Agricultural Company
Nicole Thorpe
Founding Director
Kieran Dowd
Vice President of Sourcing Solutions; General Manager
Emirates Flight Catering; Emirates Crop One
Dr. Hanan Afifi
Lead Researcher
Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority
Abdulaziz Al Mulla
Co-Founder and CEO
Madar Farms
Dr. Ramesh Jagannathan
Managing Director
Feroz Sanaulla
Senior Strategic Advisor
Roland Berger
Cinar Kurra
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Rami Zurayk
American University of Beirut
Dr. Dionysia Lyra
Halophyte Agronomist
International Center for Biosaline Agriculture
Stuart Oda
Co-Founder and CEO
Alesca Life
Penny McBride
Farmtech Society
Dr. Merle Jensen
Professor Emeritus
University of Arizona
Dr. Dino Francescutti
Sub-Regional Coordinator for the GCC States and Yemen
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Omar Al Jundi
Chief Executive Officer
Badia Farms
Hana Barakat
Assistant Director
Dr. Raman Bhaskaracharya
Assistant Professor in College of Food and Agriculture
United Arab Emirates University
Georg Czerny
General Manager
Al Dahra BayWa Agriculture
Fatima Al Suwaidi
Analyst, Development and Investment