Pure Harvest Smart Farms (Pure Harvest or the Company), a tech-enabled arid climate agribusiness based in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, announced today a historic Seed investment of USD $4.5 million in a financing round that was significantly oversubscribed. This follows an earlier USD $1.1 million pre-Seed round led by Abu Dhabi-based Shorooq Investments. Venture financing was provided by a leading federal government-backed fund, the Company’s technology partners, and a consortium of Angel investors from around the world, all of whom were strongly aligned with the Company’s mission—to offer a true & tangible food security solution to the region by deploying advanced and sustainable controlled-environment agriculture technologies in order to grow premium quality local fresh fruits & vegetables year-round; overcoming the region’s harsh, arid climate and increasingly scarce fresh water resources.
The investment will be used to fund the construction of Pure Harvest’s inaugural high-tech, fully climate controlled greenhouse facility in Nahel, United Arab Emirates, as well as to provide the company with significant working capital to cover the pre-production cash burn and procure raw materials until the facility is constructed and produce is ready to sell. The Company expects to complete the facility by mid-year and to begin selling its products in the second half of 2018.
Sky Kurtz, Co- Founder and CEO of Pure Harvest, shared with MAGNiTT that, “a massive opportunity has risen for the Company to solve food security worries, economic diversification, water challenges, and improve the quality and availability of premium fresh produce. There is a huge opportunity for us to undercut and displace food imports because of the significant transportation costs associated with them as we are disrupting the supply chain and fundamentally creating a new model of delivery for the region.”
Mr. Kurtz also went on to explain that there are numerous examples of this type of venture around the world, including in the US, Australia and China, but nobody has yet adopted the technology in the GCC region. Pure Harvest has taken the technology and customized it for the specific climate of the UAE, which is similar across the MENA region. “We are the first ones to demonstrate the success of the technology at a commercial scale and we believe that this cost structure makes us naturally much more competitive than air freighted imports. Because of this success, we are looking to sell our produce in the near future to major retailers across the UAE, including major supermarket chains Carrefour and Spinneys.”
Pure Harvest intends to expand quickly in the region, recognizing that other GCC countries are facing the same challenges that the UAE faces with regards to import-dependence, water shortages, and climate-driven production constraints. “We think this solution is relevant to every country in the region as all are facing problems with water scarcity and food import dependency. Our technology can help reduce both the costs of produce and the dependency on imports”, sighting Saudi Arabia as a major opportunity due to the scale of the market that exists there.
Pure Harvest also announced the appointment of a new Advisor and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) Local Partner, Sultan bin Khalid Al Saud. “Sultan is a fellow Stanford Graduate School of Business alumnus and is a trusted advisor who brings a wealth of experience to the Company, having worked for Saudi Aramco, McKinsey, and Passport Capital. He will be working closely with the Company to enable near-term expansion into the attractive Saudi market,” said Mr. Kurtz. “We are extremely pleased to welcome Sultan to our family.”
A member of the Pure Harvest board and a participant in both the pre-Seed and Seed rounds, David Scott, who is also a well-known economic and strategy advisor to regional governments and state-owned enterprises, emphasized the impact that Pure Harvest could have on several pressing regional challenges. “Pure Harvest’s tech-enabled approach to arid climate agriculture and its strong management team offer a realistic and much-needed solution for improving food security across the Gulf, as well as a means not just to maintain domestic agriculture, but to profitably expand it – all while preserving the region’s precious remaining fresh water aquifers. Ultimately, I see this kind of sustainable domestic agriculture as a critical component of any successful post-oil diversification strategy and I’m excited to be a part of this effort,” said Mr. Scott.
Commenting on the successful conclusion of the Seed round, Mr. Kurtz said: “This financing is an important milestone for the Company. We now have sufficient capital to deploy our solution on a commercial scale and to demonstrate to our many stakeholders a future where high quality, sustainably grown, fresh local produce can be abundantly available every single day… and at a lower cost & environmental impact than current imports. We are humbled that such an esteemed group of investors, advisors & partners share our vision and are willing to back us to transform food production in the Middle East. Hopefully by next year we will also be looking to raise a much larger amount of funding to help fuel the expansion in the region”.
“Shorooq Investments is thrilled to see Pure Harvest closing the largest Seed financing to-date in the MENA region. When evaluating investment opportunities, we try to think from a broader regional & macro perspective and to create a positive social impact,” said Mahmoud Adi, Co-Founder at Pure Harvest and the Founding Partner of Shorooq Investments. “With Pure Harvest, we hope to address food security concerns and to take a giant step forward to be less dependent on international imports for fresh produce, which will directly contribute to the UAE's long-term sustainability. We are proud to have backed this important venture since its inception and to support the strong founding team whom we believe has the right capabilities and core values to succeed”.
In addition to receiving investment from Shorooq Investments, Mr. Scott and Sultan bin Khalid, Pure Harvest is backed by the following (non-exhaustive) list of visionary Angel investors: Magnus Olsson, Founder and Managing Director of Careem; Hazem Abu Khalaf, CFA, Director at The Abraaj Group; Jim Finnigan, Co-Founder of SoFi; Peter Satow, Founder & CEO of PESA Advanced Hydroponics; Abdulrahman Kaki; Anmol Budhraja, Founder and CEO and Arnab Chatterjee, Managing Director of Three Comma Financial Consultancy; Charles Anderson, Founder & CEO of Currency; Florian Weidinger, Fund Manager at NESTOR Far East Fund; Douglas Kelbaugh FAIA, Professor and former dean at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; Mohammed Khudairi, Managing Partner of Khudairi Group; Troels Andersen, CEO of Mondo Ride; Husam and Muhammed Al Zubair of The Zubair Corporation; Bina Khan and James Joy, Co-Founders and Managing Partners of Summit Venture Partners; Edmund Ang, CFA, Vice President at First Energy Bank; Alan Winwood, CFA; and Theodore Cleary, Ted Cleary - Principal | Archer Private Investments LLC, among others.
About Pure Harvest
Pure Harvest Smart Farms (“Pure Harvest” or the “Company”) is a regional innovator in sustainable agriculture focused on the production of premium quality fruits & vegetables in the extreme climates of the Arab Gulf region, using world-leading high-tech, climate controlled greenhouse production technology to deliver vine crops (tomatoes, capsicum, strawberries, cucumbers, eggplants, etc.). The Company will soon deploy a wider portfolio of best-in-class controlled-environment agriculture technologies (e.g. vertical farms, container-based growing solutions) to deliver a wide variety of fresh produce. Pure Harvest seeks to leverage innovative technology solutions to pioneer year-round production of affordable, premium quality fresh produce. In recognition of regional vulnerabilities associated with water scarcity, food import dependence and sustainability, Pure Harvest is committed to resource efficiency and overcoming climate challenges to deliver European standards to customers with always-available, high quality, farm-to-fork products.