Middle East investors are prepared to pump millions into standout agricultural technology propositions.
PwC’s Rob Bulstrode has advised Cambridge and East Anglia agritech businesses to sow the seeds of a rich Gulf harvest.
Bulstrode told Business Weekly: “As the global agricultural landscape changes, businesses around the world are actively looking for disruptive technologies to solve key issues, and create new solutions for the industry.
“In particular, the Middle East is showing increasing interest to invest in agritech, presenting an exciting opportunity for the Cambridge and East of England technology cluster.
“The Abu Dhabi Investment Office has recently invested $100 million in four agritech companies, with the UAE, which intend to contribute towards the technology-enabled agriculture production efforts in UAE, and address the unique challenges the country's agriculture sector faces.
“East Anglia has long been the perfect home for UK agritech. With a strong farming history it provides access to both arable and pastoral farming. Close by is the leading technology centre of Cambridge and the excellent research centres in Norwich.
“In addition, AgritechE continues to support the local cluster to grow, providing an environment where famers, growers, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs can collaborate.
“Some leading technologies are already being developed locally, such as strawberry-picking robots, vertical farming systems, data management for improved yields and sensors to monitor livestock health.
“There are also a number of platform technologies and point solutions in areas such as biotech, blockchain and the Internet of Things that could easily pivot for application in the sector.
“With challenges faced such as food security, climate change, population growth, access to labour, and reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions, there is real scope for East Anglian based agritech companies to lead the way and be known not only as the leader of UK agritech, but a global leader in the sector.
“For example, food security is a critical issue in the Middle East. Increasingly the region is looking to attract international agritech companies to help them solve this problem, and others.
“Financial incentives are being planned to encourage international firms to develop a presence in the region, with funds specifically designated for investment in AgriTech.”
Bulstrode says that for the East Anglian AgriTech industry to thrive on this stage, collaboration between sectors and global players is crucial.
The PwC Agritech team is working closely with the firm’s strategy team in the Middle East to identify local opportunities and facilitate introductions across the region.