Oman’s first Food Techno Park woos investors

MUSCAT, APRIL 28 – The salient features of a first-of-its-kind Food Techno Park project, which is proposed to be established in Muscat Governorate, were unveiled to potential investors at an event held at Sundus Hotel here yesterday. The ambitious venture is the latest initiative of Oman Food Investment Holding Co (OFIC), the government’s food sector investment and development flagship. Together with initiatives in support of food logistics and an integrated fruits and vegetables marketing agency, the Food Techno Park will seek to position the Sultanate as a regional hub for all manner of specialist food-related activities.
In welcome remarks, Saleh al Shanfari, CEO — Oman Food Investment Holding Co, said the Food Techno Park is proposed to serve as a one-stop destination for various food and agriculture sector service providers. By clustering all of these players and their activities under one roof, the resulting synergies will generate enough momentum to bolster the growth of a food industry in the Sultanate — a move designed to advance the government’s food security strategies, as well as diversify the economy, he said.
At yesterday’s roadshow, attended by prospective Omani investors and small businesses, the findings of a feasibility study into the Food Techno Park were presented by Crowe Horwath, the consultants retained by OFIC to conceptualise and develop the strategically important project.
OFIC’s goal is to design and develop a “world-class Food Techno Park” that provides a conducive environment for local businesses to establish themselves in the food sector by supporting their growth along various stages of their product and business life cycle across the value chain. The Park will be suitably equipped to provide incubation, innovation, R&D, advisory, training and business facilitation services.
A feasibility plan for the Food Techno Park envisions a multi-dimensional hub for, among other services, Food Incubation, Food Research and Development, Food Training, Business Facilitation and Consultancy, Food Quality, Food Certification, and Food Marketing & Trading.
Besides supporting the development of the food sector through the creation of new food companies, the Park will also ensure the availability of high quality and safe food in the country. It will support knowledge and technology transfer, the commercialization of research ideas, and development of value-added and innovative products and services.
A key part of the Park’s remit is to support innovation in the food industry. The Park will explore the potential for innovation across the entire food industry, encompassing production, harvesting, primary and secondary processing, manufacturing and distribution. Innovation can also focus on other parts of the food system, in consumer eating patterns and in general social and cultural areas as well. Urban agriculture, vertical farming, DNA-based diets, lab-grown meat, and so on, are other examples of innovation-driven opportunities within the food sector.
Significantly, Innovation Park Muscat (IPM), an existing hub for R&D, has been tipped to host the Food Techno Park, given its proximity to premier academic and research institutions, such as Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM).