CE Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of business conglomerate Crescent Enterprises, successfully led a seed funding round to finance Kitopi, a smart kitchen network that cooks and delivers on behalf of restaurants.

BECO Capital, a leading venture capital firm in the MENA region, also joined the round.

Kitopi operates state-of-the-art kitchen facilities and runs a tech platform to receive orders and deliver them for restaurants and food brands.

With its unique business model, Kitopi aligns seamlessly with the requirements of small and medium-sized restaurants to expand their operations and reach while reducing their order processing and delivery times.

With no capital investment from the restaurants themselves, Kitopi provides the infrastructure and technology that enables food brands to open delivery-only locations and handles the orders at the kitchen on their behalf.

The investment in Kitopi is part of the corporate venture capital strategy that Crescent Enterprises announced in November 2017, whereby it will invest $150 million (AED 548 million) through CE-Ventures in early-to-late-stage technology-enabled startups by 2020.

Fifty per cent of the funds target ventures in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In the last one year, CE-Ventures has invested $46 million in tech-enabled startups and VC funds, including leading the Series A round for Freshtohome.com, an Indian startup that is disrupting the fish and meat supply chain.

Speaking on the latest investment, Tushar Singhvi, Director of CE-Ventures, said, “We target businesses that are disrupting traditional industries, such as the F&B sector. As per research findings, this sector is booming and is expected to witness an annual growth of more than seven per cent in the GCC region to reach $196 billion by 2021 – up from $130 billion today. Kitopi is powering the on-demand food economy and using technology to transform the dynamics of the F&B sector by allowing small and medium F&B businesses to focus on marketing and product innovation while it provides infrastructure and customer service.”

Mohamad Ballout, co-founder of Kitopi, said, “The partnership with CE-Ventures gives our unique business model the momentum we need to enhance our expertise and scale up our operations. Kitopi is a new concept, and we have seen widespread adoption by local and international food brands. We have ambitious plans of expanding both regionally and globally. Having the support of investors like CE-Ventures will be important as we continue to grow rapidly and extend support to more F&B businesses through leveraging our innovative tech-enabled ecosystem.”

In addition to the food tech space, CE-Ventures has concluded several investments across multiple emerging tech domains from MedTech and artificial intelligence to cybersecurity and innovative supply chain management technology across the MENA region and globally.

Some of CE-Ventures’ noteworthy investments have included US-based cybersecurity company Anomali and automated drone company PreNav, and the recently announced investment in the MENA-based digital healthcare platform Vezeeta.