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Investment in Mena climate tech hits record $270m in 2022

Workers harvest baby kale grown at the vertical nutrient film technique (NFT) system at Veggitech, a start-up farm, that produces all year-round crops using smart and sustainable farming technologies in the middle of UAE's Sharjah desert, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Reuters
A farm start-up using the vertical nutrient film technique in Sharjah, UAE. Agriculture accounted for the majority of sustainability tech investments in Mena and Turkey from 2018 to 2022
  • 50% rise in value of climate tech investments 
  • Driven by Pure Harvest’s $181m raise
  • Investors increasingly interested

Venture capital funding into climate tech startups across the Middle East, North Africa (Mena) and Turkey reached a record $270 million in 2022, although investments have been lower in the year to date, a study shows. 

Climate tech VC in the region was up 50 percent annually compared to 2021, said the report by CE Ventures – the venture capital arm of UAE-based Crescent Enterprises – and data platform Magnitt.

The record total in 2022 was driven by UAE agri-tech company Pure Harvest Smart Farms’ $181 million fundraise via a convertible note led by Saudi Arabia’s billionaire Olayan Group, the report noted. 

Also that year, Dubai-based solar energy company Yellow Door Energy closed a $400 million private equity buyout deal, in which global investor Actis and its supporting shareholders acquired a controlling stake. 

Overall, the UAE led the region in terms of the value of VC climate tech deals in the period 2018-2022, with 62 percent of the total. Turkey recorded the biggest number of deals in the same period, at 80.

Climate tech funding appears to have slowed in the first half of 2023, standing at $40 million to date, or 15 percent of last year’s total, the report said.

However, there have been more but smaller deals, it added. The 30 deals agreed in H1 represent 60 percent of the total deal number in the full year 2022. 

A heightened focus on emissions reduction and decarbonisation, both in the region and globally, has driven an uptick in VC appetite for climate change-related investments in recent years, the report noted.

Globally, VC funding into climate startups reached a record $82 billion in 2022, up 20 percent annually. 

In the Mena and Turkey region, climate tech investments totalled $651 million over the five-year period between 2018 and 2022, across 148 startups. Companies in the agricultural sector accounted for the majority of investments, the study added.  

Over the past five years, total VC funding across all sectors in Mena and Turkey reached $13.3 billion across 4,032 deals.

Thus, venture investments in the climate tech space, at around 5 percent of the total, represent a “relatively small portion of this overall investment activity”, wrote Crescent Enterprises’ chief executive Badr Jafar in the report’s foreword. But the sector is “steadily growing”, he added. 

“The Middle East is highly exposed to the effects of climate change,” Jafar said. “Our natural water scarcity, coupled with temperatures rising at twice the global average, foreshadow an increase in drought and extreme weather events that can impact hundreds of millions of lives."

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