In July of this year, the Crown Prince of Dubai launched the Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) program to reward innovative companies around the globe.
According to the website:
“The Dubai Future Accelerators Program is an intensive 12-week program that pairs top companies & cutting-edge entrepreneurs with powerful partners in Dubai to create breakthrough solutions together.”
The government-led program was created to test new solutions for 21st-century challenges on a city-wide scale. Transport, policing, building, health, education, business, and water are the key problems for which the DFA proposes to find solutions. From utilizing new technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), robotics, genomics, 3D printing, distributed ledgers and blockchain technology, biomimicry, and biotechnology, the DFA welcomes companies around the world to enter into the program and build futuristic pilot projects.
Through the DFA, for three months, businesses will have access to $2 million in venture capital per month to pay for their development and to pitch projects. Stating that the program is not an incubator, the DFA site notes:
“This is not about how to write a business plan or how to pitch your startup. It’s not about coding languages or SEO. We aren’t going to tell you how to run your business or how to develop your website.”
The blockchain is high on the list of pilot projects within the DFA program. With Dubai’s largest bank, Emirates NBD, working with India’s ICICI on a blockchain pilot project for global remittances and trade finances, the blockchain is already showing its potential to reform business issues, which is on the list of city-wide problems the DFA aims to resolve.
Through a press release unveiled today, December 12, 2016, a $33.5M (in U.S. dollars) deal was made between Dubai government entities and their first round of startups.
The blockchain is one of the projects highlighted to receive some of this funding.
Read the full press release below:
US$33M Invested in Pilot Projects in the Inaugural Dubai Future Accelerators Program
DUBAI, UAE, December 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
- US$33.5M invested in pilot programs and prototypes by Dubai Government
- Hyperloop, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, machine learning, Blockchain
- Sheikh Mohammed: program size will double
Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) announced a $33.5M US deal between government entities and their first round of startups. Over 65% of startups in the program struck a deal between the seven government entities to create a prototype or pilot program of their technology in Dubai.
The program, which began in September paired 30 companies from across the world with seven of Dubai's founding entities: Health, Energy, Knowledge, Municipality, Police, Transport and the investment portfolio Dubai Holding.
Less than 2% of the 2274 companies from 73 countries on all 7 continents who applied were chosen to join the inaugural program. The companies, which range from Fortune 100 multinational Honeywell to adventurous startups like Hyperloop One were chosen primarily on their ability to execute on their visions for the future.
Fourteen international companies taking part in the program have relocated their headquarters to Dubai. This proves the UAE's newfound attractiveness among technology companies, which, until recently, opted to set up shop within established innovative environments elsewhere, such as Europe or Silicon Valley.
Round One of the program increased Dubai's total spend on research and development by 6% in just three months. This, in turn, boosts the emirate's competitiveness, and signals its transition to an innovation-led economy.
His Excellency Mohammed Al-Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future, and Vice Chairman of the Dubai Future Accelerators said "The UAE has become the foremost global platform for turning the future into reality. It is the ideal destination to materialize innovative ideas into tangible projects that have a significant impact on the economy and society - projects that can create better lives for us and for future generations."
The second round of the DFA will see five additional government and private entities join the program - namely, the Department of Economic Development, Dubai Smart Office, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Etisalat, and du - bringing the total to 13 entities.
The second round of the Dubai Future Accelerators program is set to begin in Q1 2017 with applications opening on Monday, December 12, 2016.
Editor’s Note: Funding amount and allocation have been corrected from a previously published discrepancy.