HE Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Managing Director of Dubai Future Foundation, has said that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai is leading a government system that encourages unconventional thinking to achieve unprecedented results.
He added: “The wise leadership of the UAE has envisaged a vision that aims to transform the future into reality and has set a global platform to drive innovative ideas that are relevant to achieving economic and social returns by identifying quality solutions for the developmental challenges facing the world's cities, and touching people's lives.”
HE’s remarks came at the end of the first session of Dubai's Future Accelerators Programme marked by the announcement of 19 projects with a value of AED 120 million for seven government entities within seven different strategic sectors.
HE also announced that the second round of the DFA would see five new government and private entities join the programme. These entities are: the Department of Economic Development, Dubai Smart City, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Etisalat, and du – bringing the total to 13 organizations.
HE added: "Led by the outstanding success of the first session of the Accelerator program, with 19 companies from 30 selected for their economic, innovative and scientific value, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has instructed government agencies to participate in the DFA for the fourth generation of governmental excellence in Dubai, as the programme is a very effective tool for government entities to meet the demands of the future. He also encouraged the private sector to be involved in financing and experimenting future technologies that the 19 companies are providing that will make a positive difference to people’s lives.”
His Excellency added: "Government agencies are taking the first steps to drive the future of industry and strengthen its position in driving innovation globally, as addressed by His Highness. We have created a platform to attract the world's best minds as well as the most innovative companies to contribute to the national economy and achieve tangible results.”
HE added: “The Future Accelerators was just an idea a few months ago. It has now become the focus of international attention as an effective platform to address global challenges, and a means by which governments can address practical aspects of cities of the future with the cooperation of the private sector and owners in the innovation space.”
Economic and Competitive Advantage for Dubai
Saif Al Aleeli, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, said that compared to the global average, the first round of DFA achieved an unprecedented success rate of 64%. Normally, the rate seldom exceeds 30%. Nineteen out of 30 projects will move forward to the next phase, with AED120 million in investment allocated for them. The winning entries focused on strategic sectors such as education, health, infrastructure, transport, technology, energy, and security.
He added: " The first round of the program has already increased Dubai’s total spend on research and development by 6% in just three months. This in turn, boosts the emirate’s competitiveness and signals its transition to an innovation-led economy.”
Fourteen of the international companies taking part in the program have decided to relocate their headquarters to Dubai – most notably, Hyperloop One, which shows the UAE’s newfound attractiveness among blue chip companies, which, until recently, opted to set up shop in established innovative environments such as Silicon Valley.
The pilot projects are expected to create 135 job opportunities in Dubai over the next three months, which is projected to increase exponentially when the projects achieve tangible results, and the companies expand their activities. The programme has attracted global investors; specifically, ten of the participating companies are likely to create new and lucrative markets shortly.
Nineteen Pilot Projects, Seven Key Sectors
Companies that qualified out of the first round of the Dubai Future Accelerators program will work to implement their 19 pilot projects within seven key sectors: health, education, energy, transportation, infrastructure, technology, and security.
The education sector of the Accelerator, run in partnership with the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), adopted a project by Labster that aims to create an integrated virtual infrastructure for laboratory devices and equipment. The project reduces overhead costs in educational institutions and increases the efficiency of the sector by 25% to 40%.
Estonian startup, Guaana, received a pilot program to reinvent the global system for financing scientific research by opting for a participatory economy system and increase the effectiveness of scientific research ten-fold.
The energy sector of the Accelerator, run in conjunction with Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA), awarded a pilot to Ecoisme, to deploy several advanced artificial intelligence systems around Dubai to monitor and reduce electricity consumption.
The energy accelerator also adopted a project by Mistbox, which harnesses solar energy to operate a water-spray cooling system – thus reducing dependence on air conditioning by 30% – as well as a sophisticated energy-free cooling system by Sure Chill which can keep vaccines refrigerated for up to two weeks without power.
The transportation sector at the Dubai Future Accelerators, supervised by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will work on a feasibility study for a Hyperloop One system that reduces travel time between Abu Dhabi and Dubai to 12 minutes. The RTA additionally adopted a project by Next Transportation Technologies, which seeks to build prototypes of self-driving cars that to be used for public transport within cities and neighbourhoods.
Meanwhile, in the technology sector, where Dubai Holding oversees the accelerator, three projects were approved. The first was presented by Consensys and aims to develop a real estate database using Blockchain technology, while the second, presented by Machine Colony seeks to employ artificial intelligence to support investment decisions and asset pricing. The third project, submitted by Loyyal, seeks to create the “Internet of Loyalty Points, Promotions, and Rewards” also using Blockchain technology.
As for the construction sector, which is under the jurisdiction of the Dubai Municipality Accelerator, a project by Disperse was approved; it seeks to employ artificial intelligence and big data to increase efficiency and reduce operational costs in several sectors. Another approved project was presented by UAE-based company Grow; it aims to build a prototype for a farm that reduces the need for water and fertilisers and achieves food sustainability and security.
The project approved in the security sector – supervised by the Dubai Police’s accelerator – was presented by Comae. The company is looking to employ artificial intelligence technology to prevent and solve cyber crimes ten times faster than conventional systems.
In the health sector, where Dubai Health Authority monitors the accelerator, the approved project came from Honeywell; it seeks to implant technology within people’s homes that can record data to be analysed later to diagnose and prevent diseases. Additionally a project by Medativ, which uses 3D printing technology to cut costs for surgical training and to produce replicas of human organs to increase the accuracy of surgical operations.
Paving the Way for the Private Sector
Starting from the second round of Dubai Future Accelerators, private companies will be allowed to take part in the program alongside government entities, exploring new ways to cooperate, finance, and invest in the companies taking part in the DFA program. This increases the chances for participating companies to secure funds and penetrate the market.