AgTech FoodTech Sustainability

‘The CovHack Virtual Innovation Challenge’ on circular food economy

iFarm, Palm Co. win “The CovHack Virtual Innovation Challenge” on the theme “Circular Economy for Food”. iFarm, from Finland, topped the Start-ups category, while Palm Co. from the UAE dominated the Teams category. The challenge received 339 entries. A total of 112 applications – 43 in the Teams category and 69 in the Start-ups category – from 44 countries qualified for the challenge.

In collaboration with UN75, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development (KFED), Catalyst, Youth 4 Sustainability and STRATECIS, the competition invited applications from startups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, young professionals, tech talent and individual innovators under two categories: early-stage startups and teams.

Ideas and concepts encompassed eight focus areas:

  1. water efficiency and alternative resources
  2. energy efficiency in agriculture
  3. sustainable greenhouse technologies
  4. innovation in sustainable growing media
  5. food loss and waste management
  6. distribution channels and delivery
  7. sustainable packaging
  8. urban farming

The journey food takes is one few of us know but are all affected by. Today, we have become more aware of and sensitised to the origin and journey of our food. The circular food economy is more relevant than ever, and the more these circular principles can be implemented, the stronger our future and economy will be.”

Sheikh Dr Majid Sultan Al Qassimi, Advisor to the Minister of Climate Change and Environment

iFarm is a team of enthusiastic entrepreneurs developing fully automated sustainable, eco-friendly and economically viable turnkey solutions for modern urban farming. They create technologies that enable anyone to grow fresh vegetables, berries, greens and edible flowers for personal use or commercial purposes.

The runner-up in the Start-ups category was Xilinat, an award-winning company from Mexico that makes low-calorie natural sweetener from agricultural residue, while Circa Biotech from the UAE that upcycles food waste into animal feed using insect farming came second in the Teams category.

“Since its inception, Khalifa Fund has been committed to working in cross-sectoral collaborations with government entities and industry-leading partners to produce initiatives and programmes that positively contribute to the UAE and its entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Mouza Obaid Al Nasri, Acting CEO of Khalifa Fund

The winners will benefit from incubation, mentorship, and acceleration support from MoCCAE, Khalifa Fund, and SRTI Park. The winner and runner-up in the Start-ups category iFarm and Xilinat will also have the chance to participate in Catalyst’s and SRTI Park’s acceleration programs with up to US$240,000 of funding opportunity, subject to eligibility.