Clean technology start-up accelerator launches in Abu Dhabi

Amid efforts to reduce the UAE economy’s reliance on oil, Abu Dhabi is hosting a portal to help clean technology entrepreneurs to commercialise their ideas.

As part of the country’s Innovation Strategy, Masdar, BP and Masdar Institute yesterday launched The Catalyst, a US$5 million technology start-up accelerator focusing on sustainability and clean technology. It offers individual awards of up to $50,000 over a six-month period to help new companies.

Successful applicants will take part in a series of competitions to whittle down participants, including hackathons and innovation boot camps.

“The Catalyst is the vision to cultivate a culture of innovation,” Ahmed Belhoul, Masdar’s chief executive, said yesterday. “It provides the public with a platform, a bottom-up approach.”

Mr Belhoul noted that the business climate in the UAE was difficult for start-ups. “We’re still lagging behind other countries when it comes to the participation of start-ups in the economy,” he said.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the group chief executive of Mubadala, said Masdar had grown from a “bold idea into a commercially viable renewable energy company”.

“We want to leverage our own experience, as well as our unique infrastructure and assets at Masdar City, to create a platform for start-ups with similarly bold visions for sustainable technologies,” said Mr Al Mubarak.

The difference between The Catalyst and that of a business incubator overseen by the Khalifa Fund is that all applicants to The Catalyst must have a technological innovation centred on sustainability such as in energy, water and clean technology.

Abdulkarim Al Mazmi, the president and general manager for BP UAE, said its involvement in The Catalyst was to provide the $5m capital to help support start-ups.

“Funding is an aspect, but it’s about [encouraging] individual drive,” said Mr Al Mazmi.

The award recipients will be given seed funding, training, mentoring and work space in Masdar City.


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