First Arab Innovation Forum to support start-ups

Dubai: The first edition of the Arab Innovation Forum set to take place on February 26-28 will provide around 200 start-ups the chance to not only showcase their innovations, but to network with innovators, investors and decision-makers.

Saif Al Mansouri, corporate affairs adviser to the managing director of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF), told Gulf News that the forum will be hosting and supporting early stage companies from the UAE and around the world in the ‘Start-up Zone’, during the three-day forum at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The forum will also provide a platform for institutions, experts and entrepreneurs to come together and showcase their innovations as well as discuss topics of interest and forge professional strategic ties that will in turn help strengthen the economy.

“Start-ups contribute to the economy of the country, and through this forum, we want to connect them to investors and decision-makers all under one roof. We have received over 400 applications and have filtered them down to 200 based on the criteria,” said Al Mansoori.

He pointed out that uniqueness and exclusivity were some of the main criteria during the selection process. Selected start-ups and their innovations were also required to fall under one of the event’s six sectors of innovation — smart government, technology and communication, health care, energy and sustainability, transportation, and financial services.

“The idea is to create a gathering that includes decision makers, service providers and start-ups in one place, so they can further their innovative ideas and business objectives,” said Al Mansouri. The forum will be divided into four main sections — the summit, the start-up zone, the exhibition, and an award ceremony honouring 14 innovations.

The summit will feature an international line-up of thinkers, speakers, and experts such as author Gabor George Burt, Faith Popcorn, global pioneer in the science of the future; Omar Hatamleh, chief innovation officer at Nasa; Daria Tataj, author and entrepreneur; and Jamie Anderson, business thinker.

Meanwhile, local and international exhibitors including government departments will showcase their innovations in a 10,000-square-metre exhibition.

The forum will also host the Arab Innovation Awards, where 14 of the most innovative companies will be honoured — two awards for each sector and two awards for start-up companies.

In line with February being the UAE’s innovation month, the MBRF has confirmed that the Arab Innovation Forum will add to Dubai’s calendar as an annual event.

“My vision for this forum next year is that it will only become bigger and attract more experts and innovators from around the world,” added Al Mansouri.

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