UK firm plans to transform UAE deserts into rolling hills of wheat and maize

Country: United Arab Emirates
UK firm plans to transform UAE deserts into rolling hills of wheat and maize
26 April 2024

HyveGeo, a climate-tech startup based in the UK with operations in the UAE, aims to convert vast desert areas into arable land suitable for crops like wheat and maize. Founded in 2023 by Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr. Samsurin Welch (COO), Eva Morales (Chief Strategy Officer), and Dr. Harjit Singh (Chief Engineer), the company is pioneering microalgae technology for carbon removal and soil regeneration.

Initially focused on exploring methods to remove carbon dioxide from the air for selling carbon credits, HyveGeo evolved its approach. The founders decided to utilize microalgae not only for carbon sequestration but also for producing biofertilizers and biochar. Biochar, produced through pyrolysis, is combined with biofertilizer and other components to create a product capable of converting desert sand into fertile soil suitable for cultivation.

The company's ultimate goal shifted from being a carbon removal entity to becoming a food security provider. By regenerating soil health with biochar, HyveGeo aims to transform desert landscapes into fertile farmland, addressing food security challenges.

HyveGeo is currently in the process of proving its technology, with plans for commercialization by the end of 2025. The company is conducting pot trials and field trials to optimize its biochar-microalgae mixture for the UAE's climate and soil conditions.

In terms of funding, HyveGeo has secured $200,000 from venture capital and an undisclosed government grant. The next fundraising round aims to raise $3 million to $5 million to support the company's pilot phase and eventual commercialization.

Abdulaziz bin Redha, HyveGeo's CEO, envisions scaling up operations to regenerate large swaths of desert land. With ambitions to reach a capacity of one megaton of algae production, HyveGeo aims to regenerate approximately 12,000 hectares of desert per year, significantly contributing to land restoration efforts.

Looking ahead, HyveGeo plans to expand its technology to address soil regeneration challenges in other regions, such as Saudi Arabia and Africa. The company also aims to develop a suite of intellectual property for licensing and inspire the next generation of scientists in the UAE.

Abdulaziz bin Redha credits Sheikh Mohammed and Elon Musk as his role models for their leadership, innovation, and perseverance. He emphasizes the importance of learning from mistakes and continually seeking solutions to challenges, reflecting HyveGeo's ethos of embracing failure as a learning opportunity.

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