x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

First intake welcomed by Turn8

An online platform to share dreams, a system to check whether products are fake or genuine, and a device designed to improve communication between deaf people and others are three of the ideas that will be developed in the first intake of DP World's Turn8 seed accelerator programme.

An online platform to share dreams, a system to check whether products are fake or genuine, and a device designed to improve communication between deaf people and others are three of the ideas that will be developed in the first intake of DP World's Turn8 seed accelerator programme.

The port operator announced the scheme in April, saying that it wanted to encourage innovation that may benefit an industry that is expected to change dramatically in coming years, and because DP World has always prided itself on being open to new ideas. Innovation is also a main theme of Dubai's bid to host Expo 2020, which DP World supports.

DP World delegated the day-to-day management of Turn8 to i360, Dubai's only commercial accelerator.

This round focuses on technology and business models that will change consumer behaviour. DP World and i360 assessed 400 ideas before inviting applications from 46 teams. A total of eight international teams from Egypt, Belarus and Ukraine will join one team from Dubai. Another two Dubai teams will join this round of i360's own programme.

"We were very pleased with the quality of the ideas," Kamal Hassan, i360's president, said. While he had hoped for more teams from Dubai, DP World had hoped for more ideas from its own employees.

"The volume wasn't as big as expected," said Yousif Al Mutawa, who is DP World's chief information officer and a member of the selection panel.

"But this is about learning and awareness. I think this first time, people just want to sit and watch, to understand the experience because it may seem a bit external to the internal work they are doing."

The teams from Dubai are working on a mobile loyalty points programme, an e-commerce platform to supply school and office supplies, and a mobile app to help decision making.

The teams will arrive at the accelerator located at The Football Centre at the Al Quoz industrial estate at the start of next month. Mr Hassan hopes the location will generate creativity and drive.

Mentors are lined up to coach the teams through the four-month programme.

Slightly unusually the coaches will get an equity stake if they stay around with their team; mentors typically donate their time for free but "we had a little bit of a struggle with that model", according to Mr Hassan.

Mr Hassan has also lined up venture capitalists who he hopes may provide funding to develop and grow the teams after they graduate from the programme.

 

lgutcher@thenational.ae