Here’s how you can get $100,000 for your start-up

By Rajive Singh

ABU DHABI 11 February 2018: A group of key departments and institution have come together in Abu Dhabi to announce the launch of Fikra Labs, described as an Acceleration Programme for Entrepreneurs.

In the belief that research and development, R&D, can contribute to employment creation, national development, tourist promotion and economic growth, the concept of the Fikra Labs Acceleration Programme is being jointly supported by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, DCT Abu Dhabi, Miral, the Etihad Aviation Group and the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, Adnec, supported by Abu Dhabi Global Market, ADGM, in partnership with Wamda, an entrepreneurship empowerment platform, said Wam.

The idea behind the programme is that, as the world nations compete to achieve and reach higher levels of development, all resources need to be effectively utilised. Among these, key resources will be technology and innovation, which can serve as makers of change in the community and in the country as a whole.

The programme presents a new concept to nurture and incubate start-ups and drive innovation within Abu Dhabi’s travel and tourism sector. It provides unparalleled mentorship opportunities and the chance to win a potential US$100,000 investment along with the opportunity to structure start-up businesses in the capital’s international financial centre, Abu Dhabi Global Market.

Speaking in a panel session to launch the programme, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said, “We are excited to identify the best talent who will drive innovation and help further transform Abu Dhabi into the leading global hub for travel and tourism, so that we can continue to provide visitors with the best experiences. The programme reflects the Department’s commitment to supporting the sustainable economic growth of the capital, in line with the government’s vision.”

In his role as Chairman of Miral, Al Mubarak added, “Miral continues to work closely with the different partners and organisations in Abu Dhabi to support the growth of the capital’s tourism sector. As one of the catalysts for Abu Dhabi’s economic diversification, we are very excited to be part of this partnership that will help nurture talent and provide them with the tools and opportunities to build creative and innovative capabilities to establish projects that will benefit the future of the tourism sector in our country.”

Tony Douglas, the Etihad Aviation Group Chief Executive Officer, added, “The UAE’s vision in supporting innovative ideas will not only strengthen the economy but will also contribute to the development of many sectors including transport, travel and tourism. Etihad Aviation Group is proud to be part of Fikra Labs as it showcases the current focus on innovation. Through this partnership, we are eager to see what young minds from different trends will offer innovative solutions that will further develop aviation and tourism industry in the region and the world.”

Ahmed Al Sayegh, Chairman of ADGM, described the launch as “an exceptional initiative that illustrates Abu Dhabi’s role as a leading financial and commercial hub that supports innovation through opportunities such as Fikra Labs.”

“It gives entrepreneurs the chance to get input on their ideas and innovations from well-established organisations, with the possibility of making them a reality,” he said. “ADGM offers start-ups the legal environment, tools and support to build sustainable structures and strong governance, helping them to finance and enhance their growth potential. Access to our growing ecosystem of banks, funds and advisers will provide further momentum for that growth,” Al Sayegh added.

Speaking to the Emirates News Agency, WAM, ahead of the official launch of the programme at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General of DCT Abu Dhabi, said the idea offers a unique platform that “demonstrates how efficiently different state departments in Abu Dhabi are working in unison to harness technological solutions to achieve our national objectives.

“One aspect of our mandate at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi is to support SMEs and start-ups in order to reach our results. We have chosen this business challenge to better promote our destinations. It is the first such platform in the region,” Ghobash said.

He explained that those interested in taking part should apply via the Fikra website before 5th March. “The applications received will go through an initial screening process by the partners’ screening committee. Applicants with the highest scores will be invited to a 30-minute interview to check if they have the required technical and leadership skills, the motivation, the commitment, and the needed resilience to make their start-ups successful. A total of 32 shortlisted start-ups will join a two-day boot camp.”

“This,” Ghobash added, “will be designed as an intensive workshop to help participants develop their business idea and become pitch-ready.”

“The boot camp’s participants will pitch their business ideas to the screening committee, which will then choose 12 start-ups, three for each challenge, to go through a 4-week acceleration programme to help refine and test their solutions through an extensive programme consisting of workshops, mentorship sessions, prototyping and testing, field visits, subject matter expert discussions and more. Each start-up will pitch their final solutions. A winner for each challenge will be then selected by the relevant partner and will be awarded $100,000,” he said.