The Catalyst, the region’s first technology startup accelerator focused on sustainability and clean technology, was launched on the first day of the UAE Innovation Week by Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, BP and Masdar.
The fund was launched in the presence of Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar with a goal of helping entrepreneurs accelerate the development of a viable technology business through funding, training and mentorship.
Supported by US$5 million in funding from BP, The Catalyst will promote innovation, entrepreneurship and the development of a knowledge-based economy in Masdar City and Abu Dhabi, in line with the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy.
Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, said: “In the nine years since inception, Masdar has transformed from a bold idea into a commercially-viable renewable energy company. We want to leverage our own experience – as well as our unique infrastructure and assets at Masdar City — to create a platform for startups with similarly bold visions for sustainable technologies and turn their ideas into commercial realities. We are pleased to partner with BP and Masdar Institute to catalyse innovation in line with the call to action by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the UAE leadership.”
The Catalyst will be differentiated from the other startup accelerators in the region by its unique focus on sustainable technologies and through its highly targeted recruitment process. The Catalyst will support fledgling innovators from the UAE and beyond in the fields of energy, water and clean technology with seed funding, training, mentoring, and work space. It will accept applications from startups that are 1-5 years from commercialization. Successful applicants will receive on average US$50,000 funding and up to six months of support, training and advice to help grow their business.
Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost of Masdar Institute, said: “Masdar Institute work’s to enable technology transfer to startups and commercialization of the technologies developed through our research projects. We are pleased to be joined in this effort by The Catalyst, which will further strengthen our shared mission of supporting the development of the UAE’s innovation ecosystem.”
The goal of the accelerator is to turn a startup idea into a minimal viable product with commercialization potential. These new businesses will grow into a network of innovators in sustainability that will become the future driving force behind innovation in Abu Dhabi and across the region.
Mr. Abdulkarim Almazmi, President and General Manager for BP UAE, said: “BP is a corporation anchored in technological innovation. Our business relies on the ability of our brightest minds to innovate, so we are proud to support a programme that will develop innovative capacity in the UAE through training, mentorship and access to industry experts. BP is pleased to bring its proven capabilities in technology entrepreneurship to the region and help UAE developing a leading position in technology innovation.”
Interested entrepreneurs may apply to The Catalyst through its online application portal. Over the next few months, a series of hackathons and innovation boot camps will be held to determine the first cohort of participants in the program. Accepted applicants will partake in a program that includes education and training, investment pitch preparation, hands-on mentorship and a Demo Day. After the accelerator program, successful applicants will enjoy post-program support.
The Catalyst is now accepting applications for Spring 2016 through its online application portal.
22 November 2015