Those who are selected to participate in the Turn8 programme will be invited to spend four months in Dubai to develop their business model.
They will also have access to funding of up to US$24,000 per team.
Small businesses are considered important to any country's economy because they create jobs, generate wealth and encourage innovation. The goal of the programme is to make the UAE a centre for entrepreneurship in the Middle East.
"We are encouraging innovative and commercially viable ideas from global and local innovators," said Yousif Al Mutawa, DP World's chief information officer. "Our aim is to support an innovation culture in the wider community by encouraging and supporting a mix of international and local ideas."
The programme will take place over the next 12 months. Turn8 will start accepting pitches for ideas online, as well as holding events in the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Singapore, Malaysia, Ukraine, and the United States.
Ideas can relate to a variety of sectors including travel, trade, supply chain management, shipping, transport and logistics, logistics security, safety, sustainability and the environment. The competition for places is also open to employees of DP World.
Those whose ideas impress the selection panel will be invited to the Turn8 seed accelerator in Dubai, where they will have workspace and professional mentoring and training for four months. Innovation 360, a UAE consultancy, will mange the accelerator.
"Turn8 will reduce the gap between innovative ideas and their commercialisation by providing the start-ups with crucial early stage funding, a proven framework for turning ideas into global businesses, mentorship and follow-on investment support," said Kamal Hassan, the founder and chief executive of Innovation 360. "Our goal is to launch many successful innovative start-ups and create a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East."
DP World last week reported a 7 per cent drop in container volumes in the first three months of this year on "challenging operating conditions". Gross volumes for Europe, the Middle East and Africa were worst hit, falling by 8.7 per cent, and UAE volumes were down 5 per cent.