The NEOM company that wants to future-proof food

The NEOM company that wants to future-proof food

You’ve probably heard of NEOM – a new 26,500 km² urban area in development in the northwestern Tabuk Province, Saudi Arabia. 

And with ambitions to offer a new model for sustainable living which allows its residents to thrive without having a negative impact on the environment, it’s not surprising that NEOM’s innovators are already thinking about food. 

In December 2023 NEOM announced the launch of its own food company, called Topian. The company is a proactive step towards the development’s food climate goals: 

  • To redefine the ways food is produced, distributed and consumed
  • To pioneer increasingly efficient food production solutions within the desert landscape of Saudi Arabia, and support food security and self-reliance
  • To create scalable models to produce food in water-scarce environments that can be adopted throughout the world, as climate change continues to affect traditional food production
  • To ensure that consumers have access to high-quality and sustainable nutrition – no matter where they live

Dr. Juan Carlos Motamayor (CEO at Topian) said in a statement

"As a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEOM, Topian is fully aligned with NEOM’s commitment to providing high-quality food products to the market, and promoting food security and sustainability, while contributing to the Kingdom’s self-sufficiency objectives and long-term economic goals.

Topian is leading the food-security conversation to create a resilient food supply in line with the Saudi Green Initiative and the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. We are not only committing to shaping a transformative global food system, but also to setting a global benchmark by pioneering new technologies and innovative solutions to overcome food-related challenges and create a more secure, sustainable, and prosperous future for all.”

Topian is using science and tech to develop a more resilient food system

In the face of climate change and an increasing global human population, science and technology are key to establishing future-proof, sustainable, and resilient food systems. Topian isn’t unique in recognising this; but as a new company working in a new, tech-enabled environment, its innovators are taking advantage of the opportunity to put science at the heart of its food production solutions. 

At present, it’s all about exploration. The company is partnering with collaborators that can help to create practical change in the way people work with food, and it’s inviting the food industry to step up to the plate (pun intended) and create food products that offer better taste with lower impact. 

Partnership agreements so far include…

  • The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)
  • Tabuk University
  • Tabuk Fish Company
  • BlueNalu
  • Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects
  • Cargill 

And all of them will be focused on R&D initiatives – leveraging the expertise of each partner to develop innovative food production techniques. 

In a nutshell, Topian (at its current stage) is all about learning, collaborating, exploring, and experimenting – and that holds real promise for breakthroughs in the future of food. 

What are Topian’s focus areas? 

  • Climate-proof agriculture (in particular, minimising water use and maximising the value of every drop used)
  • Regenerative aquaculture (producing high-quality seafood without damaging the marine environment)
  • Novel foods (developing sustainable, new food products to meet consumer taste preferences and nutritional needs)
  • Personalised nutrition (taking the lead on holistic, tailored nutrition to support consumer health and well-being)
  • Sustainable food supply and ESG (with a focus on adapting supply chains to meet the needs of future society and environment) 

There’s loads more we could say…

From an agri-food tech accelerator program, to a partnership dedicated to nurturing future Saudi Arabian chefs; NEOM and Topian are digging deep into the potential of food and transformation. 

And for us, as a global F&B industry event located in Riyadh, the most exciting thing is this: 

It’s a clear example of Saudi Arabia’s dedication to innovation in food production and consumption, and a sign of important changes to come. As international collaborators work together, more world-changing food solutions will emerge from this country – tried, tested, and ready to scale. 

If you want to hear about them before anyone else does, join us at InFlavour 2024. 

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