The UAEU Science and Innovation Park, the heart of a new knowledge-based ecosystem and a global hub for research, innovation and entrepreneurship announced it achieved significant strategy milestones in the year 2020, resulting in groundbreaking achievements, despite the unprecedented challenges of the recent COVID-19 Pandemic.
In line with the UAE’s National Agenda, National Innovation Strategy, and Vision 2030, the UAEU SIP’s strategy and key objectives focus on establishing a culture that encourages, leads, and nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship through forging partnerships between different sectors, as well as national and international stakeholders, with the aim of enhancing start-up skills, networking, the use of modern technology, and improving innovative processes.
In the wake of the announcement, Prof. Nihel Chabrak, CEO of the UAEU SIP, said: “Our outstanding performance concludes a challenging year, one where the entire world faced an excruciating Pandemic”.
In 2020, the UAEU SIP inked 15 Agreements and MOUs to boost cooperation in a wide range of areas, in addition to organizing 126 activities and events, and launching 27 programs and initiatives, of which 22 were new and 5 were extended. The UAEU SIP supported 18 new start-ups, some of which will be featured in UAEU EXPO 2020.
“We established new records for startups’ revenue, earning around 2 million AED through Meta Touch in its first operational year thanks to the support of the ‘UAEU SIP Tenancy Program’, and we should not forget the active role played by industry in supporting the commercialization. Key partners like Tawazun had an instrumental role with this regard”, said Prof. Chabrak.
“We were able to sustain and start various partnerships, most importantly our new strategic partnership with the Abu Dhabi Global Market, in addition to the consolidation of the partnership with the Ministry of Economy in using the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor ‘GEM’ during the next ten years as an indicator of the National Agenda entrepreneurship goal”, said Prof. Chabrak.
The UAEU SIP established a strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi Global Market and is preparing the launch of ‘The SIP Hub and Accelerator Programme’ at ADGM, that welcomes startups fostered and grown under the UAEU SIP and global companies attracted to establish their presence in the UAE.
Extending the existing partnership with the Ministry of Economy, a new index developed by GEM will be used during the next ten years as an indicator of the National Agenda entrepreneurship goal. After producing a number of national ‘GEM’ reports over the past years, that serve as an important tool for researchers and entrepreneurs and fill a data gap that previously existed on the state of entrepreneurship in the UAE, GEM UAE has produced two special Reports on the state of Social Entrepreneurship in partnership with HSBC and the Authority of Social Contribution Ma’an, and on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.
“Also, we increased our collaboration with industry; The ‘Co-Makers VS. Covid-19’ Movement was a huge success, as not only did it emphasize the university’s role in supporting the medical sector in the UAE, in light of the Pandemic, but it also produced more than 15,000 face shields which were donated to partners such as ADEK and Tawazun”, she added.
“This year, we have witnessed an increase in the number of participants in our programs and activities. In 2016, we started with 478 participants all of which were employees, faculty, and students belonging to the UAEU campus, and we are happy to announce that we have had 3,174 participants enrolled in our programs and activities in 2020, ending the year with 3,071 that have successfully completed their participation”, said Prof. Chabrak.
The ‘Digital Venture Incubation Program’, a virtual program that was among the first in the whole region, was launched in July 2020 in collaboration with the DO School, and was open for UAE-based ventures and innovative entrepreneurs eager to #ReimagineLife.
“The Digital Venture Incubation Program is evidence of our agility to offer innovative full-fledge online programs to help innovators take the first steps in bringing their business ideas to life, with the help of experts in the field of entrepreneurship”, Prof. Chabrak concluded.
In July 2020, the UAEU SIP launched its ‘Industry Liaison Program’, a tech transfer program that brings together innovation champions from the quadruple helix model players (business, community, government, and academia) and uses design thinking, research, storytelling, and accelerator bootcamps to help them develop high impact innovations addressing real needs submitted by ‘challenge holders’. The ‘COVID-19 Health Accelerator Bootcamp’, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), and the ‘Future of Work Lab’ was a real success as it led to addressing five of the most pressuring challenges faced by the sector in the middle of the pandemic.
In August 2020, the collaboration with The UAE Ministry of Education on The National Ambassadors Program ‘Estedad’ aimed to enrich the capabilities of students in UAE high schools and to prepare them to excel academically and gain more insights in entrepreneurship and scientific research.
Another success story is the ‘MIT Innovation Leadership Bootcamp’ which was launched in February 2021. First of its kind in the region, the bootcamp is organized in collaboration with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A 10-week intensive bootcamp where 120 Emirati and Arab youth residing in the UAE were tasked with creating innovative solutions to address the challenges of youth unemployment in the Arab region.
In April 2021, and in the lead to the University participation at Expo 2020 Dubai to pioneer a new role of education through transforming the 100 million unemployed youth into 100 million shining stars, the Science and Innovation Park has launched the ‘Pathfinders Program 1.0’, a pre-pilot of the ’University of the Future‘, a model of higher education that is currently incubated in the Science and Innovation Park, which aims at graduating job creators instead of job seekers.