Global food giant PepsiCo has partnered with leading petrochemcial group Sabic and Mena tech ecosystem builder AstroLabs and their strategic partners for the launch of the Mega Green Accelerator, a new initiative to nurture the next generation of innovators in the region as they develop solutions to both regional and global sustainability challenges.
According to industry experts, 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.
The priority focus areas for the first round of the Accelerator programme include circular economy, clean energy transitions, water and agriculture, some of the most pressing issues for the Middle East.
In addition to seed funding and mentorship, the partners will provide participating entrepreneurs access to some of the most prominent business leaders in the region.
PepsiCo CEO (Middle East, Africa and South Asia) Eugene Willemsen 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,” he added.
In addition to PepsiCo, Sabic and AstroLabs, the Accelerator will leverage its strategic partners’ unique capabilities and expertise to best support participating entrepreneurs.
Investment partners Dubai Future District Fund, Venture Souq and Shurooq Partners will provide platforms for investment opportunities, mentorship in raising capital, and networking opportunities. They will also inform startup criteria and participate in the selection process to maximize investment success.
Ecosystem 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 source applicants through their networks, amplify Accelerator information and communicate progress through their channels.
Schneider Electric will support the Accelerator as a prize partner, participating in the final selection of participants.
“Sabic is proud to join with PepsiCo and other fellow partners to provide our business expertise, mentorship, resources and platform to help the brightest minds in the region reach their full potential through the Mega Green Accelerator,” said Dr Bob Maughon, Sabic Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer.
“We believe that such cross-sector partnerships are crucial in effectively tackling complex, critical issues such as climate change. In supporting this initiative, we are not just bettering local economies, but people and planet at the same time,” he added.
AstroLabs CEO Roland Daher said: “Our partnership with PepsiCo and SABIC comes at an exciting time – it’s a strategic step in accelerating innovation within the GCC, with a strong focus on sustainability.”
“With the influx of international sustainable and climate-conscious companies, the region is rising as a global testbed for innovation – we will double down on creating an environment where these businesses can scale into the local markets. Our aim is to ensure the GCC not only responds to the current demand for green solutions but also pioneers the advancement of sustainable business practices on a global scale,” stated Daher.
The priority focus areas of the Mega Green Accelerator align with PepsiCo’s transformation strategy, pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) and the other partners’ sustainability agendas, while further driving collaboration with businesses across the region to catalyze positive impact.
In the coming months, PepsiCo and partners will share additional details and application information for the Mega Green Accelerator, he added.