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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

UAE electric motorbike start-up Solva wins $50,000 Sheraa grant

Co-founders Mohamed and Yousif Al Abd, born in Sharjah, are pioneering electric bikes in the Emirates, with the delivery market firmly in their sights

Mohamed Al Abd with Solva Technologies' electric bike. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Mohamed Al Abd with Solva Technologies' electric bike. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center's (Sheraa) winner of its latest $50,000 Accelerator Program Grant was named as Solva Technologies, a tech start-up offering an environmentally-friendly solution to fleet owners using fully electric motorbikes modified with proprietary technology.

Co-founders Mohamed and Yousif Al Abd, born in Sharjah, are veterans of three previous start-up enterprises, and are now pioneering electric bikes in the Emirates, with the delivery market firmly in their sights.

“Two years ago, we were at a traffic light,” Mohamed told The National in February. “My brother, when he’s stressed, he likes to open the window to have some fresh air. He opened the window and was like: ‘No one can have fresh air any more, there’s bikes all over the place and you can’t breathe’.

“That’s when it clicked – we’ve heard about electric cars, but we’ve never heard about electric bikes.

“Each [petrol-powered] bike produces about 10 kilograms of CO2 every day – so imagine if I replaced just 10 per cent of those bikes.”

Fast forward 18 months, and the first Solva test bike was completed, with support from Sheraa and The Catalyst accelerator at Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, along with additional help from oil-and-gas giant BP.

The brothers hope to have 3,000 bikes on the road by the end of this year; by 2020, they hope to provide 40 per cent of all the delivery bikes in the UAE.

At the Sheraa awards, 10 start-ups shared the stage to introduce their products and services for the ‘Showcase Day’ segment of a Ramadan Majlis. They were there following the completion of an accelerator programme that helps early stage, high-growth start-ups scale their business through intensive workshops and mentorship.

The teams and individuals pitched their ideas, which hail from retail, charity, media and technology among others, enabling them to connect with the right people who will help push their start-ups forward.

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“To build a sustainable business, you need a tailored support system, made up of industry experts, investors, and fellow entrepreneurs,” said Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa. “This is what Sheraa offers our start-ups.”

The 10 teams were shortlisted by Sheraa following rigorous screenings for innovativeness, commercial viability and potential impact, after which they underwent a four-month training and mentorship programme. The new start-ups were supported with specialised mentorship, in-depth financial, legal, marketing and product help, office-space and access to customers amongst other benefits during their course.

“Sharjah is fast emerging as a hub of creativity and innovation in the recent years. Programmes such as Sheraa’s and events such as Showcase Day help catapult these young, fruitful ideas towards success,” said Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations.

“As someone who is constantly encouraging tech innovation within the emirate, seeing the graduates present their brand is a step towards further innovation and betterment society.”

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