startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based startup accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, announced that applications are now open for the NextGen Incubator Cohort 4.
Taking place from June to July 2021, the virtual program has been developed in partnership with Etihad Airways, Sandooq Al Watan, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, and EEDAMA. It is open to UAE university students between the ages of 18-25 who are passionate about developing tech-enabled solutions for global challenges outlined in the UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Through a rigorous training program including skill-building workshops, mentorship, and network access, accepted teams will acquire the skills and tools to develop their project into a startup with a business model that is scalable, repeatable, and capital-efficient. The program will take advantage of the region’s favorable entrepreneurial environment, and equip students with future-ready social, digital, entrepreneurial, and business skills that spark curiosity, enhance employability, and encourage innovation.
Five startups with outstanding solutions for responsible consumption and production, quality education, climate action, good health, and wellbeing can win prizes worth USD 33,000. Projects by UAE nationals will have the chance to win the National Impact Award, a USD 10,000 prize offered by Sandooq Al Watan. Startups addressing waste management will qualify for the Etihad Challenge and stand to win 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’s Ecoflights. In addition, the top teams will win prizes worth USD 5,000 from GGGI. Market-ready projects will also benefit from introductions with program partners. The deadline to apply for the program is May 15.
Commenting on the fourth edition of the NextGen Incubator, Managing Director of startAD also Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship at NYUAD Ramesh Jagannathan said: “Innovation is a crucial pillar of the UAE’s transition into a knowledge economy. Regional governments can unlock more than USD2 trillion in economic growth and create more than one million jobs by 2030 by promoting sustainability through national policies. For the fourth consecutive year, we are joining forces with our valuable partners to equip tomorrow’s leaders with the skills and tools that will support them into realising their ideas and projects into thriving businesses while contributing towards a better and more sustainable and prosperous future for all.”
Chief Digital Officer of Etihad Aviation Group Frank Meyer said “Sustainability, innovation, and community engagement are key priorities for Etihad and we are excited to launch the Etihad Challenge as part of startAD’s Youth Entrepreneurship Program. We are looking forward to working with the talented and entrepreneurial youth community in the UAE to find innovative solutions to address our sustainability challenge around responsible waste management.”
Director General at Sandooq Al Watan Hind Baker said “Entrepreneurship drives change through innovation and is pivotal in achieving a knowledge-based economy. It also generates job opportunities and positively impacts economies and communities. Our collaboration with startAD comes in line with our mission of building human capabilities, nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit in our youth and pushing them to realize their full potential. Previous cohorts have yielded stellar results, particularly last year where we extended our support to four startups and awarded the National Impact Grant to Jagged, a youth-run EdTech startup created to facilitate opportunities for high school students. Through personalized mentorship, Jagged ultimately fosters a community of grateful individuals wishing to give back,” continued Baker.
To date, the program has advanced 300 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.