Friday 17 September 2021 - 11:19:06 am

startAD announces winners of entrepreneurship programme for university students


ABU DHABI, 5th August, 2021 (WAM) -- startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based startup accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at New York University Abu Dhabi, has announced the winners of the NextGen Incubator.

The virtual programme has been designed specifically for UAE-based university students between the ages of 18 and 25 who are passionate about developing tech-enabled solutions for global challenges as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals, said a startAD press release on Thursday.

The "Showcase Day" represented the conclusion of a rigorous entrepreneurship training programme. This edition included skill-building workshops, mentorship, and network access during which teams acquired the skills and tools to develop their project into a start-up with a business model that is scalable, repeatable, and capital-efficient.

Organised in partnership with Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Sandooq Al Watan, and Etihad Airways, the programme takes advantage of the region’s favourable entrepreneurial environment, and equips students with future-ready social, digital, entrepreneurial, and business skills that spark curiosity, enhance employability, and encourage innovation.

The winning start-ups presented outstanding solutions for responsible consumption and production, quality education, climate action, good health, and wellbeing and won prizes worth US$33,000.

Mental Health AE, a platform that provides services, information, and resources to create awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health in the UAE, won the National Impact Award, a US$10,000 prize offered by Sandooq Al Watan.

Ground Z, an innovative digital platform that aims to reduce educational inequality with the help of artificial intelligence won first prize of US$3,000 from GGGI.

5mm, a start-up which creates sustainable microplastic clean up solutions placed second with a prize of US$1,500 from GGGI RePlaste, a sustainable design studio addressing waste management, won the Etihad Airways Challenge and return business class tickets to any destination served by the Etihad Greenliner, as well as the opportunity to test and validate their technology through a pilot project on Etihad Airways’ Ecoflights. They also received the third prize of US$500 from GGGI.

Twelve teams comprising 34 students pitched their solutions to a panel of experts during Showcase Day.

Commenting on the fourth edition of the NextGen Incubator, Managing Director of startAD and also Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at NYUAD, Ramesh Jagannathan said, "According to the UN 2020 World Youth Report, 600 million jobs would be needed in the next 15 years to meet global youth employment needs. Entrepreneurial disruption is now more essential than ever before; as the world tackles a global pandemic, technology disruptors will rise to play a critical role in reshaping economies "The NextGen Incubator is dedicated to promoting innovation as a crucial pillar of the UAE’s transition into a thriving knowledge-based economy. By providing the nation’s talented and entrepreneurial youth with the skills and tools needed to realise their ideas into successful businesses, we are contributing towards building a brighter and more prosperous future for all, with sustainability at its core."

Chief Digital Officer of Etihad Aviation Group Frank Meyer said, "Our warmest congratulations to the winning teams and the finalists, who have shown us yet again the enormous potential of UAE youth in driving innovation and progress. We look forward to working with these future leaders to explore innovative ways of continuing to make air travel more sustainable, not just for Etihad, but for the global aviation industry as a whole."

Director General at Sandooq Al Watan Hind Baker said, "Sandooq Al Watan is delighted to partner with startAD in supporting the NextGen Incubator programme, which functions as an instrumental tool to help motivate and encourage the UAE’s young entrepreneurs to find tech-enabled solutions for some of the most pressing challenges the global community is facing. As an organisation that is committed to promoting social responsibility and community cohesion, Sandooq Al Watan seeks to collaborate with the most impactful initiatives that can make a difference in UAE society."

The virtual programme received 146 applications from 27 universities. The 34 finalists, of whom 50 percent were female, represented 15 nationalities, seven universities, and three Emirates of the UAE.

The jury included Head of Sustainability & Business Excellence at Etihad Aviation Group Mariam Al Qubaisi, Director General at Sandooq Al Watan Hind Baker, Senior Strategic programme Manager at Sandooq Al Watan Sama AlHammadi, and Senior Officer at Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Hyun S. Lee. The investor panel consisted of CEO and Cofounder of The UAE Angels Capital Investment Dr. Abdulhannan Kareem and Corporate Leader, Board Director and Advisor to multiple family offices and Venture Capital companies Alaa Alhashem.

To date the NextGen Incubator has advanced 369 youth entrepreneurs from 30 universities and five emirates in the UAE. Many of these entrepreneurs have gone on to incorporate their businesses and secure significant local and international projects with leading UAE corporations, said the press release.

WAM/Binsal AbdulKader