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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Clutch of MoUs signed under third phase of Dubai Future Accelerators scheme

Emirates, Dewa and other state entities enlist help of start-ups to improve efficiencies

Dewa's Jebel Ali power station. Dewa
Dewa's Jebel Ali power station. Dewa

Dubai government entities and SMEs on Tuesday signed a total of 46 agreements to help tackle operational challenges under the third phase of the national start-up development programme, Dubai Future Accelerators.

The memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed after start-ups presented solutions to problems highlighted by Dubai government groups including the state carrier Emirates, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), Dubai Health Authority, the education body the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, and others.

“We believe we are going to see tangible products, contracts and services coming out of these MoUs over the next year,” Khalfan Belhoul, chief executive of Dubai Future Accelerators, told The National during an event to mark closure of the third round of the scheme.

“[Dubai Future Accelerators] is in its first year and the idea is to give the government entities time now to get prototypes from the companies who have signed MoUs with them,” he added.

The state-backed accelerator programme was launched last year to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in the UAE – a key plank of the national economic development plan.

It is not open solely to UAE-based applicants, but those selected are supported to establish themselves in the country and conduct projects under the scheme.

The third phase focuses exclusively on what start-ups can provide for government entities, in an attempt to increase the number of government contracts won by SMEs and help governments make efficiency savings.

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During the event, organisers said they received 1,100 applications from around the world, of which 46 were selected to participate, including nine Emirati companies, which was double the number in the second round.

Participating start-ups worked on a range of proposals for their respective government ‘clients’, from the fields of cyber security, water conservation, energy efficiency, AI (artificial intelligence) and e-learning.

“The total number of MoUs signed was 46, which means that out of the total number of projects conducted, you’re talking about a 77 per cent MoU conversion – a pretty high figure if we were talking about the venture capital world in which many of these companies will play,” Mr Belhoul said.

“Of course, in this case MoUs are not the total success factor [as they are not actual contracts], but as an indication of [potential future success] that’s a high number.”

Registrations for the fourth phase of the accelerator programme will open in the first quarter of 2018, Mr Belhoul said, adding that the scheme itself does not make funding available to its participants.