Incubating new tech start-ups and providing young Emiratis with tech skills is at the heart of Ghadan 21's mission
One of the key goals of Abu Dhabi’s AED 50 billion (US$13.6bn) government accelerator programme, Ghadan 21, is to prepare the Emirate’s workforce for the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.
In the second article in our series to mark the first year of the programme, we look at how Ghadan 21 is accelerating Abu Dhabi’s transition to a knowledge-based economy and strengthening its position as a global innovation hub.
If Abu Dhabi Government is to equip people with knowledge for a tech-enabled future then incubating new tech start-ups and providing young Emiratis with tech skills needs to be at the heart of Ghadan 21’s mission, while at the same time growing a vibrant research and development (R&D) ecosystem.
The launch of HUB71 last March  was a major milestone in this mission.
The tech platform brings together key enablers from around the world to provide tech start-ups in Abu Dhabi the best chance to succeed. Already, HUB71 has incubated 39 start-ups.
Another major boost for the entrepreneurial ecosystem was the launch of the AED 535 million Ghadan Ventures Fund, which aims to grow Abu Dhabi’s start-up and venture capital space by offering a Start-up Matching Fund for early-stage start-ups of up to AED 10 million for seed rounds and AED 50 million for series A rounds.
This month [February 2020], Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) expanded the scope to increase support for the growth and expansion of innovation-focused companies through participation in Series B and beyond financing rounds, investment in established regional and global funds and collaboration with global accelerators.
ADIO is also investing AED 60 million in five innovation-focused companies, including Securrency, TruKKer, Sarwa, YACOB and Okadoc. In addition, ADIO’s New Managers Fund, which matches every AED 1 of equity raised in a private market (up to AED 20m per fund), has made its first investment in UAE-based VC firm Global Ventures.
ADIO is also offering generous incentives in the field of agriculture technology (AgTech), with an AED 1 billion incentive fund on offer for innovators working within specific areas of AgTech, including algae-based biofuels, indoor farming, precision agriculture and agrobotics, to expand their operations to Abu Dhabi. Incentive packages are also on offer to those working in ecotourism, with the aim of supporting the development of sustainable tourism projects and unlocking access to Abu Dhabi’s natural environment.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Education Authority (ADEK) has launched a partnership with nonprofit organisation XPRIZE, with AED 300 million committed to crowdsourcing innovation in areas such as water and food scarcity via a series of XPRIZE Abu Dhabi global competitions.
Finally, the Abu Dhabi Award for Research Excellence (AARE) is funding research expected to advance scientific and technological development, as well as develop meaningful partnerships between Abu Dhabi scientists and leading academic and industrial collaborators, both nationally and worldwide. Last month [January 2020], ADEK awarded more than AED 40 million in competitive funding to 54 successful research and development proposals.
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