A AED2 billion ($544 million) fund which aims to provide finance to UAE innovators was launched on Tuesday by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE's Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
The Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund To Finance Innovation is designed to support innovators across various sectors and help them transform ideas into innovation projects, news agency WAM reported.
The fund is a federal government initiative represented by the Ministry of Finance and will create a supportive environment for innovation through the collaboration of various financial institutions and funding entities within the UAE, including commercial banks, investment funds, family businesses and other funding entities, WAM said.
Specific phases for the development of the fund have been established with the pilot phase being launched during the first half of 2016. This will be followed by the official launch of the fund’s operations in the second half of 2016.
The announcement was made as part of UAE Innovation Week.
Obaid bin Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, said: "This pioneering innovation initiative goes hand-in-hand with the vision of our wise leadership to enhance the innovation approach in order to achieve sustainable development, and its goals to establish the UAE as one of the most innovative countries in the world by 2021.
"The Ministry of Finance is entrusted with the role of managing and supervising the fund through a comprehensive programme which provides financing solutions to innovators within the UAE, and supports growth and innovation, specifically across the seven sectors outlined in the national innovation strategy. This fund is considered one of the most important financing tools in the region."
He said the fund will play a significant role in driving growth and economic development within the UAE.
Al Tayer added: "We are confident that the fund will achieve its goal to facilitate access to financing solutions for innovators, at a reasonable cost. We look forward to supporting the fund by providing both financial and non-financial services to enhance processes, and improve performance in line with the Ministry and federal government’s objective to encourage and support innovation in the UAE."
Eligible applicants need to have registered their project as intellectual property and the initial stage of the project must already be established.
The fund will provide support to all projects, prioritising those related to the seven sectors outlined in the national innovation strategy - renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space.