Abu Dhabi Investment Office Launches AED2 Billion Innovation Program To Foster Innovation In The UAE Capital's High-Growth Sectors Abu Dhabi looks to boost growth in sectors with a sustainable competitive advantage.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

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The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), the central government hub supporting investment in Abu Dhabi, has launched a new AED2 billion worth program to support new and innovative ideas through globally competitive rebates and grants.

The Innovation Program will target innovation-led companies and startups in the financial services, information and communications technology (ICT), health services and biopharma, and tourism sectors.

It is conceptualized as an extension of ADIO's AgTech incentive program which resulted in partnerships with seven agriculture innovators to accelerate research and development (R&D) and the implementation of cutting-edge technology within Abu Dhabi's agriculture ecosystem.

In addition to a financial incentive pool of AED2 billion, the Innovation Program is looking to assist more established businesses and startups via non-financial incentives as well. "What we've done is look at a couple of other core sectors where we believe we have the competitive advantage or can create a competitive advantage," explains Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO. "Aside from just the financial aspect, we've got the non-financial aspects– the land, the support, the engagement, the ability of financing, access to credit guarantees and so on. AED2 billion is to attract the companies whether they be startups or entrepreneurs, as well as large institutions, to help facilitate some of the opex and capex requirements that they may have to set up here, to all the non-financial areas. This is really a by-product of everything that has happened this year but also planning that was done in 2019 – we're merely executing it now and effectively doubling down."

Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General, ADIO.

Related: Abu Dhabi Investment Office Invests US$5 Million In Shorooq Partners' Bedaya Fund To Support Early-Stage Startups In Abu Dhabi

Organized and established under the Abu Dhabi government's Ghadan 21 accelerator program, the new Innovation Program has been created with the intention to create thousands of high-skilled jobs, catalyze innovation and impactful solutions in core sectors of Abu Dhabi's ecosystem, as well as to increase opportunities for investors in the Emirate. "We're looking at anyone who can constructively contribute to the sectors that we've built or continue to build, but more importantly we have to put it in the context of the year that we're in right now," Dr. Hendi explains. "This is as much about the transaction as it is about the long-term relationship that we're building with them. We want them to participate and be very proactive in helping us address policy, regulation, expansion, working with other enterprises here. So, I suppose it's about finding collaborative and ambitious people– all those traits are going to be sticky for the ecosystem we're trying to build."

With Abu Dhabi continuing to provide the right environment for companies across a plethora of industries to grow and thrive, Dr. Hendi believes that the upcoming year will provide more opportunities for the Emirate to market its efforts. "When I look at every part of the ecosystem we're building now, it's a constant focus on exposure all the way through to integration," he says. "If today someone comes to Abu Dhabi and says, 'I want to do so and so,' I can tell them exactly what they need to do and I have a team that can facilitate that from A to Z. We want the private sector to engage with us in order to help us understand which areas need to be prudent. For me, in terms of having a seat at the table in the direction that we take Abu Dhabi forward, this is probably one of the biggest strengths that we have in terms of our engagement."

Startups and businesses that are interested in and wish to avail the benefits from ADIO's Innovation Program can visit: https://www.investinabudhabi.ae/Our-Programmes/Innovation

Related: ADIO And ADQ To Drive More Investments Towards Abu Dhabi's Technology Ecosystem

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Writer, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Writer at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is keen on pursuing and writing stories on people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

A bibliophile, chai addict, and photography enthusiast, she can be often found (animatedly) talking about Kdramas, BTS, cricket, novels, and comic book films.

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