Thursday 16, November 2017 by Jessica Combes

Agribusiness Pure Harvest Smart Farms founders raise $4.5 million


Pure Harvest Smart Farms (Pure Harvest, or the Company), an Abu Dhabi-based tech-enabled arid climate agribusiness announced a Seed investment of $4.5 million in a financing round that was significantly oversubscribed.

This follows an earlier $1.1 million pre-Seed round led by Abu Dhabi-based Shorooq Investments. Venture financing was provided by a leading federal government-backed fund, the Company’s technology partners, and a consortium of Angel investors from around the world, all of whom were strongly aligned with the Company’s mission—to offer a food security solution to the region by deploying advanced and sustainable controlled-environment agriculture technologies in order to grow premium quality local fresh fruits and vegetables year-round, overcoming the region’s harsh, arid climate and increasingly scarce fresh water resources.

Proceeds from the financing will be used to fund the construction of Pure Harvest’s inaugural high-tech, fully climate controlled greenhouse facility in Nahel, United Arab Emirates. The Company expects to complete the facility by mid-year and to begin selling its products in the second half of 2018. Following the demonstration of its technology and its ability to serve the fast-growing demand for fresh local produce, Pure Harvest intends to quickly expand in the region, recognising that other GCC countries are facing the same challenges as the UAE with regards to import-dependence, water shortages, and climate-driven production constraints.

Pure Harvest also announced the appointment of a new Advisor and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) Local Partner, Sultan bin Khalid Al Saud. “Sultan is a fellow Stanford Graduate School of Business alumnus and is a trusted advisor who brings a wealth of experience to the Company, having worked for Saudi Aramco, McKinsey, and Passport Capital. He will be working closely with the Company to enable near-term expansion into the attractive Saudi market. We are extremely pleased to welcome Sultan to our family,” said Sky Kurtz, Co-Founder and CEO of Pure Harvest.

A member of the Pure Harvest board and a participant in both the pre-Seed and Seed rounds, David Scott, a well-known economic and strategy advisor to regional governments and state-owned enterprises, emphasised the impact that Pure Harvest could have on several pressing regional challenges. “Pure Harvest’s tech-enabled approach to arid climate agriculture and its strong project team offer a realistic and much-needed solution for improving food security across the Gulf, as well as a means not just to maintain domestic agriculture, but to profitably expand it – all while preserving the region’s precious remaining fresh water aquifers. Ultimately, I see this kind of sustainable domestic agriculture as a critical component of any successful post-oil diversification strategy and I’m excited to be a part of this effort,” said Scott.

Commenting on the successful conclusion of the Seed round, Kurtz said this financing is an important milestone for the Company. “We now have sufficient capital to deploy our solution on a commercial scale and to demonstrate to our many stakeholders a future where high quality, sustainably grown, fresh local produce can be abundantly available every single day… and at a lower cost & environmental impact than current imports. We are humbled that such an esteemed group of investors, advisors and partners share our vision and are willing to back us to transform food production in the Middle East.”

Shorooq Investments is thrilled to see Pure Harvest closing the largest Seed financing to-date in the MENA region. When evaluating investment opportunities Mahmoud Adi, Co-Founder at Pure Harvest and the Founding Partner of Shorooq Investments said a broader regional and macro perspective is considered as well as the creation of a positive social impact. “With Pure Harvest, hopefully food security concerns will be addressed and a giant step forward to be less dependent on international imports for fresh produce will be taken, which will directly contribute to the UAE's long-term sustainability. We are proud to have backed this important venture since its inception and to support the strong founding team whom we believe has the right capabilities and core values to succeed,” said Adi.

In addition to receiving investment from Shorooq Investments, Scott and Sultan bin Khalid, Pure Harvest is backed by the following (non-exhaustive) list of visionary Angel investors: Magnus Olsson, Founder and Managing Director of Careem; Hazem Abu Khalaf, CFA, Director at The Abraaj Group; Jim Finnigan, Co-Founder of SoFi; Peter Satow, Founder & CEO of PESA Advanced Hydroponics; Abdulrahman Kaki; Anmol Budhraja, Founder and CEO and Arnab Chatterjee, Managing Director of Three Comma Financial Consultancy; Charles Anderson, Founder & CEO of Currency; Florian Weidinger, Fund Manager at NESTOR Far East Fund; Douglas Kelbaugh FAIA, Professor and former dean at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning; Mohammed Khudairi, Managing Partner of Khudairi Group; Troels Andersen, CEO of Mondo Ride; Husam and Muhammed Al Zubair of The Zubair Corporation; Bina Khan and James Joy, Co-Founders and Managing Partners of Summit Venture Partners; Edmund Ang, CFA, Vice President at First Energy Bank; and Theodore Cleary, Director at Crito Capital, among others.

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