Ten Mena start-ups selected for PepsiCo’s Greenhouse Accelerator

Innovative start-ups from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Lebanon are on track to join the US beverage company's mentorship programme

Aamer Sheikh, chief executive of Middle East - PepsiCo. Photo: PepsiCo
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PepsiCo has announced the 10 companies selected for the first Mena edition of the Greenhouse Accelerator programme following a rigorous multi-stage judging process.

The programme was launched in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and formalised following the signing of an agreement between three parties — the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Food Tech Valley, and PepsiCo. The US beverage giant also became the first multinational company to partner with the Food Tech Valley — an initiative launched by the UAE Government to serve as a hub for future clean tech-based food and agricultural products.

A specially curated selection committee comprising high-ranking PepsiCo executives and members from the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Food Tech Valley ranked the start-ups across five key criteria, including sustainability alignment to PepsiCo Positive (pep+), strategic synergy with PepsiCo; scalability, relevance to Mena, and breakthrough potential.

Judges in this edition sought start-ups that are accelerating environmental sustainability in the food and beverage industry through disruptive technologies by way of sustainable packaging alternatives, reduced packaging, recycling processes, and sustainable recycling behaviour modification. The Greenhouse Accelerator programme aims to push for solutions and innovations in the packaging space that will help PepsiCo and other industries accelerate change towards a more sustainable food system.

The Mena edition of the PepsiCo Greenhouse Accelerator programme launched last year and received nearly 70 applications from aspiring start-ups in the region. The six-month initiative will focus on an initial grant to support operations and help launch or scale up their innovation. In addition, the programme seeks to enhance innovation in the sustainability space through collaborations with purpose-driven brands from the Mena start-up ecosystem that share PepsiCo’s vision for a more sustainable food system.

The 10 selected companies will each receive an initial grant of USD 20,000 to support their business, along with guided mentorship from PepsiCo and Food Tech Valley experts. At the end of the programme, the final winner will receive a USD 100,000 grant from PepsiCo and have access to a growing network of influential experts and investors, logistics facilities, and have the opportunity for growth through capacity building.

“In the face of rising global challenges, innovative start-ups have proven to be rich sources of groundbreaking solutions to pressing economic and environmental sustainability issues. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is delighted to be a main partner of the Greenhouse Accelerator programme that seeks to harness the power of start-ups to make the food and beverage sector more sustainable. The initiative aligns with the UAE’s drive to shift towards a circular economy and is another example of how PepsiCo and the Food Tech Valley are inspiring positive change for the good of people and the planet,” said Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

“The PepsiCo Greenhouse Accelerator programme is an example of how we are building a positive value chain and prioritising circularity and inclusivity through PepsiCo Positive (pep+), our strategic end-to-end transformation framework. We have received applications from an outstanding group of start-ups that are innovating in the field of sustainable packaging, and over the next six months, look forward to supporting them and contributing to helping the region as it doubles down on unleashing the potential of disrupters. We are delighted to welcome the support of both the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the Food Tech Valley, for this exciting edition of the PepsiCo Greenhouse Accelerator programme,” said Aamer Sheikh, chief executive, Middle East — PepsiCo.

“The start-up ecosystem in the Mena has been on a growth trajectory, witnessing the introduction of a multitude of innovative businesses that have pushed the envelope in their respective fields. As such, it gives great pleasure to be signing this MoU in support of the PepsiCo Greenhouse Accelerator programme and regional innovators. Such initiatives are beneficial for our country and our government’s economic diversification plans as it gives pioneering individuals and start-ups the opportunity to showcase their solutions for a sustainable future. We will spare no effort in extending our full support to the winners and look forward to the sustainable ideas of the future,” said Hesham Al Qassim, chief executive of wasl Asset Management Group, the developer of Food Tech Valley.

The programme will feature a one-on-one mentorship session, granting entrepreneurs access to PepsiCo and Food Tech Valley executives and business accelerator experts, who will share their expertise and guidance on research and development, business models, product development, regulatory practices, and market activation. Their expertise can also help businesses overcome challenges in the supply chain, marketing, distribution, manufacturing, packaging, label claims, fund-raising and other elements of their operations.

The selected start-ups will also have the opportunity to showcase their innovations to reputable technology industry professionals at the Step Conference, a major regional event that PepsiCo is partnering with and sponsoring this year.

Updated: February 25, 2022, 4:05 AM