Masdar City and Alesca join forces to launch vertical smart farm project

12 Feb 2024

Alesca Farm

The partnership demonstrates Masdar City’s commitment to supporting start-ups that are creating innovative climate change solutions

Abu Dhabi, UAE, February 12, 2024 - Masdar City, an Abu Dhabi, UAE-based sustainability and innovation hub dedicated to making all cities a solution to climate change, has teamed up with Alesca Technologies, an agricultural technology company that develops comprehensive and localized farming solutions, to launch Masdar City’s first indoor vertical farm. The project will enhance Masdar City’s community while educating visitors about vertical farming as a solution that helps address food security challenges. 

Using the latest in green farming technologies, the agri-tech initiative makes use of automated equipment and AI software to grow multiple varieties of high-quality leafy greens, lettuces, and herbs that are fresh, free of harmful chemicals, and ready to eat. 

Housed in repurposed shipping containers near Masdar City’s Eco-Plaza, the farm will feature two full‐size commercial farming containers that will generate upwards of 650 kg of leafy greens per month all-year round for a farm‐to-fork experience. The first container is fully operational, with plans to expand to the second in the coming year.

“Partnership and experimentation are key to unlocking innovative climate change solutions, and foundational to who we are at Masdar City,” said Sebastien Miller, Masdar City’s manager of public realm. “We’re glad to be partnering with a company like Alesca, which is known as a test bed for the localization of food production and producing high-quality food—both of which play a role in addressing food security and related climate change challenges.”

The vertical farm uses 90-95 percent less water than conventional farms. Additionally, the farm’s highly controlled and automated monitoring process helps maximize food production and minimize food waste.

Masdar City is already hosting visitors, including students, to educate them about food security issues and the potential of indoor vertical farming, which makes fresh, post-organic produce available locally—even in a harsh climate such as the UAE’s—while drastically reducing carbon emissions related to the supply chain. 

Like many Masdar City projects, the Alesca indoor vertical farm also showcases the potential of multi-functional land use, which is particularly important in high-density cities.

“Using urban land for more than one purpose reduces cost, makes better use of limited space, and enhances urban resilience,” added Miller. “In the case of a vertical farm, the greenery can also contribute to improved air quality and reduced urban heat island effect—that is, it assists with cooling, which is particularly important in this part of the world. It’s a project with so many benefits.”

“Masdar City is an incredible partner to work with because of the climate tech ecosystem that they have carefully built over the past decade,” said Stuart Oda, Alesca’s founder. “Transforming the agricultural industry requires collaborating with innovators across dozens of sectors, and we’re excited to accelerate our tech development and global impact by actively engaging with the Masdar City community.”

Alesca Technologies is part of Masdar City’s growing agri-tech cluster, which also includes a number of other start-ups: The DANA beta site is growing organic produce, Circa Biotech is using black soldier flies to turn food waste into organic animal feed and other products, and HydroArtPod is bringing organic vertical farming into homes.

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