Abu Dhabi enlists Nanoracks for space-based agtech boost

The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) has signed three separate partnerships with US-based Nanoracks, Pure Harvest Smart Farms (Pure Harvest) and FreshToHome that will see the three companies receive financial and non-financial incentives totalling US$41 million (AED 152 million).

As per the agreements, the three innovative agricultural companies will develop cutting-edge projects in Abu Dhabi to boost the emirate’s agriculture technology (agtech) capabilities across space, land and sea.

The research and technologies developed by these companies will also address global food security challenges.

Incentive packages

The competitive incentive packages include rebates on innovation-linked high-skilled payroll, high-tech CAPEX, as well as land, utility and intellectual property support.

ADIO is a government entity that attracts and facilitates investment in Abu Dhabi emirate.

The new partnerships are part of ADIO’s efforts to grow Abu Dhabi’s agtech ecosystem.

Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO, said: “Abu Dhabi is pressing ahead at full steam with our mission to ‘turn the desert green’ and solve long-term global food security issues.

“We are driving innovation across the entire agriculture value chain and this is producing a compounding effect that is benefiting farmers, innovators and companies in our region and beyond,” Bin Hendi added.

In Abu Dhabi

ADIO’s new partnerships with Nanoracks, Pure Harvest and FreshToHome will build on the achievements made by AeroFarms, Madar Farms, RNZ and RDI, the agtech pioneers ADIO partnered with in 2020 to establish R&D and production facilities in Abu Dhabi.

Nanoracks is building the first-ever commercial agtech space research programme, the StarLab Space Farming Center, in Abu Dhabi as a commercial space research facility focused on advancing knowledge and technology for organisms and food produced in space and in equally extreme climates on Earth.

The space-based technology will be applied to desert agriculture to address pressing environmental and food security challenges and to benefit long-term human space exploration.

Nanoracks, the single largest commercial user of the International Space Station, opened its first UAE office in Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, Hub71, in 2019.

Pure Harvest is a UAE-grown, tech-enabled farming venture that uses cutting-edge food production systems to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in a climate-controlled environment, enabling year-round production, while using seven times less water compared to traditional farming methods.


FreshToHome is an e-grocery platform for fresh, chemical-free produce.

The company maintains complete control over its supply chain, inventory and logistics by obtaining produce directly from the source through an AI-powered auction process.

Allen Herbert, SVP of Business Development and Strategy, and Head of Nanoracks, UAE, said: “Much of today’s technology used for vertical, urban and closed environment agriculture initially came from space research from 30 years ago, and Nanoracks is ready to synergise these technologies back to in-space exploration.

“We firmly believe that space research holds the keys to solving major challenges on Earth, from climate change to food security.

“We’re building a global research and development team that will produce and commercialise organisms, technology, and innovative products that will not only revolutionise farming in Earth’s deserts and harsh environments, but also change the way humans explore the Universe,” Herbert added.

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