UAE’s Innovation Agenda Drives Growth, Inclusivity, and Competitiveness

Author: TASC Outsourcing
Jun 22, 2022

Governments all over the world understand the importance of investing in Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) in order to achieve socio-economic development, as STI opens up opportunities for faster economic growth and creates sustainable wealth that is independent of natural and non-renewable resources.

The UAE is set on transitioning into a knowledge and innovation-based economy independent of oil resources, and on enhancing scientific and technological innovations in its public, private and academic sectors.

The UAE government in partnership with private investors has devised a multi-pronged strategy to propel the nation into a premier destination for new-age businesses like Crypto, the Metaverse, and similar digitally-focused endeavours. Plus of course, traditional areas like Healthcare, Architecture, Manufacturing, Space Research, Alternative Energy, Aviation, and more. Here’s a glimpse of all the policies and programs the government is focusing on to help businesses keep up on the growth chart.

The Unique National Innovation Strategy

The UAE is perhaps one of the few countries in the world to have a National Innovation Strategy which aims to position the United Arab Emirates among the most innovative nations in the world. The strategy will introduce new legislation that promotes innovation incubators, build specialised national capacities, motivate the private sector, develop international research partnerships, and enhance the public sector toward more innovation. The strategy will stimulate innovation in seven governmental sectors including renewable energy, transportation, health, education, technology, water, and space.

UAE Innovation Week

Held annually during the month of November to celebrate innovation across the UAE and includes more than 100 activities in each Emirate across the UAE. The festival attracts and incentivises innovation showcasing across the federal and local governments, educational institutions, as well as major private sector companies and global partners.

The Government Innovation Lab

Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation launched ‘Government Innovation Lab’ to discuss ideas stemming from UAE brainstorming with specialists and subject matter experts, and to develop immediate solutions for many challenges faced by some sectors including education, health, social affairs, and others, using creative thinking to generate innovative solutions.

 

Friendlier than ever to new business

Investments in the Middle East and North Africa tech firms, excluding Israel, quadrupled to $2.87 billion last year, compared with $654 million in 2020, with roughly half that investment flowing into the U.A.E., according to Dubai-based Wamda, a research platform.

Dubai is now home to three tech start-ups worth at least a billion dollars: Kitopi, a cloud kitchen platform; private aviation platform Vista Global; and Emerging Markets Property Group, which operates classified listing websites in the U.A.E., Egypt, and other countries, according to New York-based CB Insights.

The effective extension of Sequoia Capital India to Dubai helped produce the venture fund’s first investment in the Gulf region. California based Sequoia’s India-focused fund in January 2022 led a $33 million early-stage investment in a Saudi-based fintech start-up, Lean Technologies Ltd., and the fund is planning another deal.

The Success of Hub71

A global ecosystem for tech companies, start-ups, and investors looking to capitalise on growth opportunities, Hub71, backed by Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Investment Co, the SoftBank Vision Fund, and Microsoft (MSFT.O), has accepted 100 start-up firms since its inception in 2019 after a selection process that drew about 3,500 applications.

E-Commerce to get a boost with Dubai CommerCity.

The first phase of Dubai CommerCity, a Dh3.2 billion e-commerce free zone, is being launched by Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (Dafza). Phase one will contain 470,000 square feet of a total of 2.1 million sq ft being built at the project in the Umm Ramool area of the city, close to Dubai International Airport. It is expected to fuel the future of e-commerce business in the region.

The Golden Visa Program

The U.A.E. has stated its aim of becoming home to 20 tech companies worth $1 billion or more by 2031. It is offering 100,000 ‘golden visas’, or permits that allow entrepreneurs and technology investors to live in the country for up to 10 years, longer than any regular visas.

The UAE's key achievements in innovation include:

Establishing a number of complexes and research institutions and technical institutes to promote research, creativity, and innovation, such as:

  • Abu Dhabi's Masdar City
  • Dubai Science Park
  • Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park
  • Arab Institution for Science and Technology in Sharjah
  • Technology and Innovation Centre in Ras Al Khaimah
  • The Centre of Excellence for Applied Research & Training (CERT)

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