Pure Harvest raises $181m as it focuses on food security R&D and expansion

Abu Dhabi AgriTech start-up plans to combine growth capital with debt financing to fund expansion into Asia

Tomatoes are grown at Pure Harvest's farm in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Pure Harvest Smart Farms
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Abu Dhabi start-up Pure Harvest Smart Farms has raised $181 million in its latest funding round as it looks to expand further into the GCC and Asia.

The latest financing brings the agricultural technology company's total funding to $387.1m and makes it among the most-funded start-ups in the region.

The funding round was led by existing investors including South Korea's IMM Investment, the UK's Metric Capital Partners and Saudi Arabia's Olayan Group, as well as other "existing investors and management", Pure Harvest said on Thursday.

The company plans to combine the capital with debt financing to invest in research and development and to fund expansion.

"Now, it is time to enter new markets that share similar challenges to our own – fast-growing populations, seasonal import-dependence and an awareness of the crippling effects that short-term crises like Covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and climate change are having on our global food system," said Sky Kurtz, co-founder and chief executive of Pure Harvest.

The UAE has been accelerating its support of AgriTech companies to reduce reliance on food imports, which make up nearly 90 per cent of food consumed in the country, Chatham House said.

Abu Dhabi has launched several initiatives to support expansion in the sector, including $41m in grants and incentives worth $545m.

Pure Harvest is among the first and now largest AgriTech companies to grow out of the UAE since it started operations in 2017. It has four indoor temperature-controlled farms in the UAE, one in Saudi Arabia and another under development in Kuwait.

“The climate and water challenges Pure Harvest works to overcome is vital to the global economy," a representative for Olayan Financing Company said.

Its investment comes at a "critical point in their journey" as Pure Harvest begins to expand into markets outside the GCC, the representative said.

The funding round was "oversubscribed" and a few strategic investors are still in discussions for further upsizing, Pure Harvest said.

This month, the company said it bought a controlling interest in a joint venture with Al Dahra to own and operate a large-scale agriculture facility.

The purchase of the Al Ain greenhouse from Munich project development company BayWa for an undisclosed sum will expand Pure Harvest's crops to include aubergines, strawberries and peppers.

It will also help to further develop its ambitions for zero-carbon growing operations.

The three parties in the deal plan to collaborate to develop food infrastructure projects in the UAE and new markets, which will include developing renewable energy projects to power the AgriTech sector.

Updated: June 30, 2022, 7:25 AM