AgTech Pioneers Provide Glimpse into “Future of Food” at ASPIRE Industry Seminar


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The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council was pleased to support a second ASPIRE industry seminar on Tuesday, November 22nd about the “Future of Food.” This seminar convened officials, executives, and researchers to share ideas and explore collaborations to fortify Abu Dhabi’s burgeoning food and agricultural sector.

Over the course of the day, participants assessed the rapid evolution of the food industry, with the emergence of sustainable urban agriculture and lab-grown foods. They explored the challenges faced by industry given increasing population, decreasing crop yields, and rising stress on natural resources. Moreover, they evaluated the opportunities to harness advances in AI, biotechnology, IoT, robotics, and advanced materials to revolutionize our current food systems. 

Representatives from government and the private sector spoke on a panel about reducing food waste in the U.A.E.
Dr. Ray O. Johnson, CEO of ASPIRE and the Technology Innovation Institute (TII), discussed his organizations’ roles in driving applied research and development across industries in Abu Dhabi. Dr. Johnson also noted the success of ASPIRE’s first industry seminar, which facilitated conversations between stakeholders in the mobility industry. Under his leadership, ASPIRE will continue to host this series of seminars to facilitate conversations on the challenges faced by companies in key sectors, as well as opportunities for collaboration and innovation yet to be realized.

In a fireside chat about the role of innovation in the future of food, Dr. Johnson highlighted the growing challenge of food insecurity across the globe caused by the climate crisis and pandemic-related economic realities. Two panel discussions brought together pioneers that are advancing technology and sustainability in the food and agriculture sector. The first panel, titled “Tech to Table,” spotlighted companies that are developing and employing innovative approaches to farming such as Emirates Flight Catering’s Bustanica vertical farm project, Madar Farms, a vertical farm company, and StarLab Oasis, a developer of astro-culture and seeds to be grown in space. In the second panel, titled “Counting Our Blessings,” representatives from the Ne’ma National Food Loss and Waste Initiative discussed the U.A.E.’s efforts to reduce its food waste by 50% by 2030.

Participants met with researchers from TII in small workshop groups designated based on the specific interests and experiences of the companies. These workshops served to engage TII’s researchers and the industry experts in meaningful discussions about targeted topics relevant to the future of the food and agriculture industry in the U.A.E.

For questions about this event or the Business Council’s activities in this sector, please contact Alyssa Kristeller at