As the countdown to COP27 begins, sustainability is on the agenda for countries and enterprises. Amid this backdrop, some of the smartest startups are hard at work finding tech tools that can help us avoid climate catastrophe. To celebrate the ingenuity of the startups working to turn things, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF), an initiative launched by the UAE Ministry of Finance in partnership with Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s sustainability hub, awarded Masdar City Free Zone licenses to five startups at Gitex Global 2022.
The initiative aims to recognize the efforts of five start-ups in the MBRIF Accelerator program in solving some of the most pressing issues in the clean energy and water sectors.
Selected based on sustainability efforts, the startups will join Masdar City’s network of companies developing innovative solutions in key climate action areas.
“The region is witnessing significant growth in innovative and disruptive companies that are promising a better future for the communities that live here, and we aim to support them by nurturing entrepreneurship that has a positive economic and social impact,” said Shaker Zainal, Head of MBRIF, at a Masdar City event at Gitex Global 2022.
We caught up with the winning startups to learn more about the environmental problems they’re tackling.
Alesca Life Technologies
Established in 2013, it is an agritech company focused on developing next-gen farming solutions. The enterprise builds turnkey vertical farms and agricultural solutions to maximize farm productivity and efficiency.
“We will need to find more sustainable, local, and reliable ways to grow food,” says Tsuyoshi Stuart Oda, founder and CEO of Alesca Life Technologies, an agri-tech company.
“Food and agritech companies have the opportunity to significantly reduce the agricultural industry’s environmental footprint while producing safer and more nutritious food,” adds Tsuyoshi.
A biotech company focused on new materials development; the company has created one of the most efficient oil absorbers in the world.
“Our technology uses natural materials to absorb oil and clean the water,” says Guilhermo Queiroz, founder and CEO of BioSolvit.
Now, hoping to start doing business in the Middle East, Queiroz adds that being a part of the MBRIF accelerator program and getting a free license to operate in Masdar Free Zone will “open the door to great opportunities in the UAE” for the startup.
The Dutch startup builds carbon-neutral water purification and desalination systems entirely powered by solar energy by providing an off-grid, solar-powered water purification solution.
Desalination is one of the “fastest-growing pieces of that puzzle for providing water globally, particularly in the GCC region,” says Alexei Levene, co-founder of Desolenator. “We provide a solution by designing a desalination technology built around solar energy that doesn’t use harmful chemicals and can run 24 hours a day on solar power.
Levene says there are tremendous opportunities for a startup like Desonlentar in this region, particularly in the GCC, as it has some of the most water-stressed countries in the world. The startup plans to expand to the Americas, South Asia, and Africa.
Sweden-based biological, sustainable sanitation solution provider employs formulated bacterial culture to treat human waste and transform the urine into a natural liquid fertilizer that is odor free, pathogen-free, and full of nutrients, suitable for organic farming.
“Our mid-term goal is to accelerate our production and presence in MENA and beyond to reach over 20 million users, open up new markets, and improve schools and public areas to achieve higher environmental, social, and economic impact results,” says Imad Agi, Founder, and CEO of ECOLOO.
Wahaj Solar has developed the next generation of solar concentrators, currently building a cluster of six units, each 15 m in diameter, with a central storage system to provide electricity 24/7. “This cluster will be the basic block of large-scale power stations,” says Ayman Al-Maaitah, Managing Director of Wahaj Solar, adding that the startup is also working on green hydrogen production using thermolysis technology.
The MBRIF Accelerator program offers services and coaching to member companies to accelerate their business, elevate capabilities, unlock value, and achieve scale, the company said.