Pure Harvest now most funded AgTech start-up in Menasa with $64.5m in new funding

Company teams up with Korea's PlanTFarm to build indoor vertical farms in Mena

Abu Dhabi-based agricultural technology start-up Pure Harvest Smart Farms raised $64.5 million in growth capital, taking its total funds to over $271m, making it the most-funded AgTech player in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region.

The funds, led by Korean private investment firm IMM Investment alongside existing investors and management, will be used for its expansion and technology development efforts, particularly as it shifts away from traditional greenhouses into vertical farming.

The company even plans to build and operate farms in hypermarkets where it can grow produce and directly sell them to consumers, Pure Harvest said in a statement on Wednesday.

Pure Harvest also announced a joint venture with PlanTFarm to design, build and operate indoor vertical farms in the Mena region using proprietary technology. IMM is the largest shareholder of PlanTFarm.

“With the latest round, Pure Harvest aims to not just sell produce to retailers but also build and operate vertical farms in hypermarkets and grocery stores, including its retail partners Spinneys, Waitrose, Carrefour and The Sultan Centre,” Sky Kurtz, founder and chief executive of Pure Harvest, told The National.

“This investment will expand the company’s technical capabilities to include artificially lit vertical farming, capable of growing basil, butter lettuces, mushrooms, kale and herbs for sale to consumers.”

The UAE has been accelerating its support of AgTech companies in line with its programme to ensure food security and reduce reliance on imports.

Abu Dhabi has launched a number of initiatives, including $41m in grants and incentives worth $545m, that would support other high-growth areas.

In August, aquaculture company Pure Salmon partnered with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office to set up its global headquarters in Abu Dhabi, which was part of Adio’s Dh2 billion innovation programme. Later that month, Abu Dhabi’s holding company ADQ announced plans to start a new venture in Al Ain, aiming to boost the production of fresh fruits and vegetables in the UAE.

Pure Harvest's latest financing round comes after the company secured $60m in March. It currently operates three farms in the UAE, with its fourth and fifth projects under development in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, respectively.

Upon completion of those projects, it will operate over 18 hectares of production capacity across numerous crops and will employ more than 300 people, the company said.

The company is also looking to expand into South Asia by early 2022, Mr Kurtz said.

The PlanTFarm venture will enable Pure Harvest to serve as an “omnibus” controlled-environment solutions provider, adding new controlled-environment agriculture growing systems to its existing portfolio, ranging from retailer-integrated, in-store farms to large-scale, warehouse-style indoor vertical farms.

With the latest round, Pure Harvest aims to not just sell produce to retailers but also build and operate vertical farms in hypermarkets and grocery stores
Sky Kurtz, founder and chief executive of Pure Harvest

This will also add more than 100 commercially proven crops, giving rise to the broadest technology portfolio and resulting fresh produce product range of any smart farming solutions provider anywhere in the world.

Pure Harvest's controlled-environment techniques harness technology to tackle some of the region’s biggest problems, including food security, water conservation, economic diversification and sustainability needs.

Its existing institutional investors include Franklin Templeton, Wafra International Investment Company, Shuaa Capital, Sancta Capital, Archer Private Investments and 2040 Fund, among others.

Early stage angel investors and existing management also invested more than $7m in the round, “evidencing the strength of insiders’ conviction in the company’s prospects,” said Tariq Sanad, chief financial officer of Pure Harvest.

Updated: October 27th 2021, 4:08 PM