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Following the success of their composting pilot facility, Edama has received seed investment of $780,000 USD from the KAUST Innovation Fund. The University has also signed a contract to build a commercial-scale composting facility for the startup on its Thuwal campus. The facility will be operational in 2021 and will have a recycling capacity of 5,500 tons to help KAUST achieve its zero-waste target of recycling over 80% of the total waste that University generates.

Reducing waste and improving soil

Edama Organic Solutions team testing plant soil in their lab at KAUST. Illustration by Khulud Muath.

KAUST has committed to supporting the visionary waste management startup, as a way to lead change in the Kingdom and achieve the University’s zero-waste sustainability goals. Together, Edama and KAUST are working to change attitudes and approaches to waste management and help Saudi Arabia move toward smarter, more sustainable businesses and lower impact living.

“Here at KAUST, we produce a lot of horticulture and food waste. The Edama composting facility will allow us to reach 96% of our organic waste-management goal, so we can divert waste away from landfill and focus on recycling,” Matthew Early, vice president of facilities management at KAUST, explained.

With no other large-scale composting companies in operation specialized in desert composting, KAUST and Edama believe their collaboration is a pilot for others in the Kingdom to follow.

Founded in 2018, Edama designs, builds and operates bespoke composting facilities for communities that are committed to sustainability. The startup uses organic waste and transforms it into high-quality soil improvement products specifically designed for use in desert environments by local farmers, landscapers and home gardeners.

The new compost facility will allow Edama to manufacture and sell products, including their Edama Desert Compost—an organic soil improver that boosts soil fertility while improving water retention. Edama also produces a hydroponic growth medium made using date palm waste called Edama Palm Peat, which boosts hydroponic yields while diverting a common by-product of the date industry that is otherwise sent to landfills.

“Our innovation lies in adapting the composting process to the local hot, arid weather conditions and challenging local waste feedstocks, such as palm fronds,” Sabrina Vettori, chief executive officer of Edama stated. “The partnership with KAUST is about more than just an investment—it is a key step in creating innovative solutions for Saudi Arabia’s sustainable development.”

Currently, organic waste goes straight to landfill sites where it becomes a pollutant, adding to greenhouse gases and leaching harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater. But organic waste contains precious resources that can help farmers grow more food with less water in desert environments, where there is limited arable land, water is scarce, and soil quality is poor – factors that make large-scale desert agriculture difficult and inefficient. Edama provides an essential closed-loop solution as food demand is on the rise in the MENA region.

Edama is focused on rapid growth and expansion. The startup graduated from the KAUST TAQADAM Startup Accelerator in 2018 and is now based in the KAUST Research and Technology Park. The new composting facility being built at KAUST will give the startup exposure and traction with external partners and potential customers.

Source: KAUST




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Why SaaS vendors like Snowflake love open source

opensource istock 664811638 ildo frazao

Commentary: For those who look at the success of SaaS services as portending bad things for open source, the opposite may be true.

Image: Ildo Frazao, Getty Images/iStockphoto

From the earliest days of MongoDB, co-founder Eliot Horowitz planned to build a managed database service. As he stressed in an interview, Horowitz knew that developers wouldn’t want to manage the database themselves if they could get someone to do it for them, provided they wouldn’t sacrifice safety and reliability in the process. The natural complement to open source, in other words, was cloud.

This isn’t to suggest cloud will kill open source. Though Redmonk analyst James Governor is correct to suggest that where developers are concerned, “Convenience is the killer app,” he’s also right to remind us that open source “is a great way to build software, build trust, and foster community,” factors that cloud services don’t necessarily deliver. Even as enterprise customers embrace more Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors like Snowflake or Datadog, open source software will matter more than ever.

Cloudy with a chance of open source

This fact can be overlooked in our rush to cloudify everything. Donald Fischer, CEO and co-founder of Tidelift, said, “Ten years from now much of the complexity around managing open source will be invisible to developers in much the same ways that cloud computing has made people forget about server blades and routers.” Responding to this sentiment, Hacker One CEO Marten Mickos stressed, “We simply MUST automate and package away the current complexities, because we are already busy creating new ones.” 

While this sounds great, not everyone is enthusiastic about the trend. 

SEE: Special report: Prepare for serverless computing (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

For one thing, as analyst Lawrence Hecht pointed out, it’s not clear we “want [open source] to be invisible” to the user. Sure, we might want to eliminate the bother of managing the code, he continued, “but having an auditable trail is valuable.” Even for those who don’t want to inspect or compile source code (and, let’s face it, that’s most of us), it’s useful to have that access, even if we outsource the work of digging into it.

In addition, there’s another risk, highlighted by Duane O’Brien: Eliminating user visibility into the open source software that powers managed cloud services “will also have the effect of adding an insulating layer between users and contributors. That insulating layer will further propagate the notion that open source is something done by other people, with several additional side effects.” One of the most deleterious of effects? It potentially exacerbates the sustainability of open source projects, as Alberto Ruiz noted. It may also reduce some of the enthusiasm developers feel for getting involved, Jason Baker argued.

But, really, this isn’t about cloud versus open source. It’s really a matter of shifting the focus for end users of that software, as Fischer went on to stress: “The analogy of cloud computing vs private data centers illustrates the opportunity: specialists doing the generic work upstream, freeing up time and brainpower to focus on new organization-specific capabilities further up the stack.”

Even for companies that offer proprietary services, open source is essential. Snowflake just went public with its proprietary data warehousing service, but underneath it’s open source software like FoundationDB. Datadog is similar, with Elasticsearch under the hood. And so on. 

We can be grateful for these SaaS companies that make it easier to consume open source software even as we recognize that they simply couldn’t exist without open source. 

Or, as Randy Shoup put it, it comes down to a convenience calculus: “If we have to operate infrastructure, we strongly prefer open source. If we can buy it as a service, we don’t really care what’s inside.” But the reason end users needn’t care is because builders continue to care a great deal about open source. That isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Disclosure: I work for AWS, but the views herein are mine and don’t reflect those of my employer.

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Sea Level Rise by 2.5 Metres Now Inevitable Even if Paris Climate Goals are Met, Study Shows

antarctic ice scaled

According to a new paper published in the journal Nature, thanks to a host of self-reinforcing, destabilising mechanisms, the slow melting of the Antarctic ice sheet will cause the sea level to rise by about 2.5 metres even if Paris climate goals are met and temperatures start to fall after reaching 2°C over pre-industrial levels.

“The more we learn about Antarctica, the direr the predictions become,” said co-author on the paper Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “We get enormous sea level rise even if we keep to the Paris agreement and catastrophic amounts if we don’t.”

According to Jonathan Bamber from the University of Bristol, who was not involved in the research, the study provides compelling evidence for the potentially devastating consequences of even moderate climate warming, which could lead to the removal of entire nations from the world map.

Sea Level Rise by 25 Metres Now Inevitable Even if

Stopping Antarctic ice from melting might no longer be a possibility. Image: Jason Auch via Wikimedia.org, CC BY 2.0

One of the key reasons why the ice sheet is unlikely to re-grow is hysteresis – an effect whereby the value of a physical property lags behind the effect which modulates it. As the ice melts, its surface drops and sits in warmer air, requiring lower temperatures to reform than to remain stable.

The study indicates that the ice sheet will “not regrow to its modern extent until temperatures are at least one degree Celsius lower than pre-industrial levels” – a feat that would be incredibly difficult to achieve at this point.

Given that the Antarctic ice sheet contains about half of the Earth’s fresh water, substantial global warming would lead to massive sea level rise, and that’s not even including the rise caused by melting ice in the Arctic Ocean and Greenland.

“Our results show that if the Paris Agreement is not met, Antarctica’s long-term sea-level contribution will dramatically increase and exceed that of all other sources,” conclude the researchers.

Sources: nature.com, theguardian.com




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Why Xbox Series S, PS5 Digital Edition Could Fail in India

On this episode, we talk about the Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X price in India, apart from discussing PS5 price in India. Games industry watchers and former members of our Transition podcast team Rishi Alwani and Mikhail Madnani join host Pranay Parab to discuss. We begin this episode by talking about the digital editions of the two consoles. Is there a market for digital-only consoles in India? When bandwidth caps are common and broadband is not widespread, can such consoles succeed in India? We discuss it at length, as Rishi reveals some important tidbits of information such as the fact that the demand for the Xbox Series S may not be as high as Microsoft would like to see. On the Sony end of the spectrum, there is not much clarity about PS5 price in India just yet, but we can say for sure that the digital edition is likely to face an uphill task in India because the market for used games is still quite huge in the country, and the infrastructure may not yet be ready for a digital-only future in gaming consoles.

Then we talk about the difference between Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. It’s not just about the disc drive and when you factor in all the costs, the Series X suddenly begins to look like much better value. We also talk about the PS5’s list of exclusives and how Microsoft is taking that on. This is where we bring up game pricing for Xbox Series consoles and PS5 in India. With games getting more expensive, what challenges could game developers face in this market? We discuss that at length. Then we talk about what Nintendo could be working on in terms of console upgrades, and whether it can take on PS5 and Xbox Series X. Finally we tell you about the games we’ve been playing this week. You can check out Rishi and Mikhail’s work at The Mako Reactor.

That’s all for this week’s episode of Orbital, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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