US food and beverage giant PepsiCo has partnered with other organisations to launch the Mega Green Accelerator, open to start-ups in the Middle East and north Africa.
Launched to coincide with the COP28 climate summit in the United Arab Emirates, the accelerator will look to back businesses “focusing on circular economy solutions, clean energy transition and climate mitigation technologies, including water and agriculture”, a statement announcing the move read. The chosen start-ups will be developing solutions to both regional and global sustainability challenges.
Joining PepsiCo in the venture is Saudi chemicals group Sabic and Dubai-based business support organisation AstroLabs, which will run the accelerator.
In addition to seed funding and mentorship, the chosen start-ups will get access to “some of the most prominent business leaders in the region”.
No details have yet emerged as to how much money the co-founders have put into the project nor how much the chosen start-ups will receive.
Just Food has asked PepsiCo for further information.
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A statement announcing the launch of the accelerator said: “The Middle East is warming almost two times faster than the global average, yet the support and investment for the sustainability innovation ecosystem in the region does not match this urgency.
“Since 2010, less than 50 new climate technology startups have been founded in the MENA region, compared to nearly 5,000 in Europe and the US. The Mega Green Accelerator aims to reduce this gap, foster regional collaboration and cultivate a network of MENA-based innovators addressing the most pressing sustainability challenges in the region.”
Eugene Willemsen, the CEO of PepsiCo’s operations in Africa, the Middle East and south Asia, said: “Innovators in the MENA region have incredible potential for scaling and are making important strides to develop homegrown solutions to address the unique challenges the region is facing.
“COP28 is already putting a spotlight on climate innovations coming out of the UAE and the region at large, and PepsiCo is excited to support the next generation of climate leaders through the Mega Green Accelerator. By bridging the gap between entrepreneurs and the networks and resources they need, we are committed to supporting breakthrough start-ups as they scale sustainability solutions, grow their businesses and form critical connections.”
Also backing the project are investors Dubai Future District Fund, Venture Souq and Shurooq Partners.
London Business School Entrepreneurship Club, Berytech, American University of Cairo Venture Lab, the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park and the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection will help source applicants through their networks.
PepsiCo has been involved in a number of accelerator initiatives.
In Europe, the company runs its Greenhouse programme, the first of which the company launched in Europe in 2017. Earlier this year, the group started a sustainability-focused accelerator in Asia Pacific.
Last month, PepsiCo said it planned to spend SR200m (then $53.3m) on expanding a snacks facility in Saudi Arabia.
The Lay’s crisps and Doritos brands owner said the investment in its plant in the eastern city of Dammam is part of its Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 plan to “enhance the Saudi agricultural sector and boost sustainable food production in the Kingdom”.