Rising Stars: Uvera

Rising Stars: Uvera

As business ventures that develop cutting-edge offerings on the basis of engineering innovation or scientific discoveries and advances, startups in the deep tech space are companies known to be working on the next major tech breakthrough- and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can proudly claim to be home to several of them now.

Following a review of their offerings, their potential, the funds they have raised, and many other such factors, we picked the top five emerging deep tech startups in the Kingdom today, and here's one of them: Uvera, a Saudi Arabia-born clean tech startup that aims to reduce food waste for consumers and retailers.

As an annual trade show staged in Las Vegas, United States by the Consumer Technology Association, the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) is the largest technology event in the world, and it is the setting for the CES Innovation Awards, an annual competition honoring outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products. And among the winners of the 2023 CES Innovation Awards was Saudi Arabia-born startup, Uvera, for its product, Aurora, which makes use of an ultraviolet light-based artificial intelligence of things (AIoT) solution to increase the shelf-life of fresh foods by up to 97% percent on average, within only 30 seconds, and without the use of any use of chemicals.

Uvera was founded by Asrar Damdam, a graduate of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) who is currently pursuing her PhD degree there as well. According to Damdam, KAUST has played an integral role in the launch and development of her enterprise. “I consider myself very fortunate to have received support from the KAUST ecosystem, which not only enabled us to build the products, but also to carry out scientific research in the area of food science to analyze the effects of our technology on the sensory qualities and microbial growth in various food items, and determine the shelf-life extension we can achieve for fruits, vegetables, and meats,” Damdam points out. “Our residency at KAUST, which provided us with access to the biological core laboratories and prototyping facilities, enabled us to conduct the scientific research that we did.”

Commenting on the deep tech ecosystem in Saudi Arabia, Damdam notes there are currently only a limited number of Saudi institutions -like KAUST and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST)- that have the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the development of startups in this space in the Kingdom. That said, Damdam points out that they provide a lot of substantial support for enterprises under their umbrella, with her startup being a clear example of this. “The only major challenge that deep technology companies encounter in the Kingdom is a lack of institutional investors with a deep technology focus,” Damdam adds. “However, we have recently observed government-supported initiatives in this area, and this trend appears to be changing soon.”

In terms of the road ahead for Uvera, Damdan declares that her startup’s vision is to effectively contribute to the global challenge of reducing food waste by 50% by the year 2030, as per the 12th of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. “The market for Uvera is enormous in the Kingdom,” she adds. “With the support we receive from retailers and restaurants, as well as from KAUST and various government entities, I foresee Uvera prospering in the Kingdom over the long term.”

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