Abu Dhabi: Sandooq Al Watan, a national initiative that supports research projects, has announced the launch of the ‘Our Future’ project, which aims to prepare the UAE for a post-oil era.
The initiative will support the establishment of Emirati start-ups and help grow them into global companies that generate large economic and social returns to the country. The fund plans to support 20 key-sector start-ups by 2020.
“The ‘Our Future’ initiative is a foundation upon, which we can create a knowledge economy by supporting innovative ideas and start-ups that propose solutions to the challenges of the future and growing them into a global phenomenon” said Mohammad Taj Al Deen Al Qadhi, Director General of Sandooq Al Watan.
He said the initiative will support the projects from inception until they transform into “local and global leaders.”
The initiative is aligned with the UAE leadership’s directives to set plans for a sustainable knowledge economy in the post-oil era.
Sandooq Al Watan will be implementing the initiative in three phases, the first of which is the ‘ideation phase’. During this phase, the fund will source ground breaking ideas from the country’s brightest individuals. This includes incentivising researchers to generate bold ideas and increase copyrights in vital sectors — such as aviation, space, water, and genetics — in collaboration with the private sector. The ‘ideation phase’ will see close to Dh30 million distributed to supporting research in key sectors over the course of three years.
In its second phase called ‘commercialisation’, the initiative will begin incubating and accelerating ground-breaking ideas identified in the first phase. This will be done through the establishment of innovation centres across the UAE that will provide key services such as training, mentorship, free working space, and pre-seed funding. The first centre is set to be inaugurated in early 2018 in Abu Dhabi.
The third and final phase called ‘growth’ will see the fund create a platform that connects established start-ups from second phase with a network of venture capitalists, consumers and experts that would facilitate growth through financing and purchases.
The ‘Our Hope’ initiative aims to play a role in creating the next ‘Emirati Google’ or Tesla by 2071, through the comprehensive three-stage programme that brings together academia, industry and entrepreneurs.
“Our Future signifies Sandooq Al Watan’s commitment to support the government efforts in diversifying our economy and to provide young Emiratis with the opportunity to pursue their ideas and shape the future” said Al Qadhi.