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Red Sea Farms accelerates expansion following oversubscribed investment round

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Red Sea Farms, a Saudi Arabian agtech business whose technology enables the commercial farming of produce using primarily salt water and sunlight, has successfully closed its latest funding round, raising USD$16 million from Saudi, UAE and U.S. investors.

The company plans to use the funding to build and retrofit more than six hectares of commercial farming operations in central and western Saudi Arabia, to expand their Saudi and Middle East operations, and to explore growth opportunities in the U.S. The company currently operates a salt-water pilot greenhouse at the KAUST Research and Technology Park.

Red Sea Farms was established in 2018 with a vision to reduce food insecurity, carbon and fresh water use in the global and Gulf food sectors. The company’s unique, end-to-end growing system primarily uses salt water, cutting fresh-water consumption by 85 to 90 percent. Through a patented system of new, more efficient solar and growth monitoring technologies, salt water replaces fresh water typically used to cool greenhouses and irrigate crops.
Red Sea Farms’ growing systems can be quickly and easily scaled in climates such as the Middle East, where conventional farming methods are not possible or cost-effective. The company is initially using its technology to grow and sell tomatoes in Saudi Arabia, but ultimately plans to sell entire turn-key growing systems to buyers around the world.
“We are proud to have designed, developed and delivered one of the world’s most sustainable agricultural systems from our base in Saudi Arabia,” said Ryan Lefers, Red Sea’s chief executive, who along with professors Mark Tester, chief scientist, and Derya Baran, chief engineer, co-founded Red Sea Farms. “The investment from our new partners will help us improve global food security while reducing the carbon and fresh-water footprint.”
In June, an initial investment of $10 million came from a group of Saudi and UAE investors including the Aramco venture Wa’ed, the Saudi government-owned Future Investment Initiative, Institute, KAUST and Global Ventures, a UAE venture capital group. Interest was subsequently received from AppHarvest and Bonaventure, investors from the U.S. who have provided $6 million.
In 2019, Red Sea Farms received a $1.9 million investment from the KAUST Innovation Fund and Research Product Development Company (RPDC); a subsidiary fully owned by the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA). A leading graduate research university, KAUST is a major innovator of sustainable agriculture solutions for the Middle East and other water-scarce regions.

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