Applications open for startAD's inaugural AI Venture Launchpad

Submissions close on August 30, following which a total of 15-20 startups will be selected to join the 10-day sprint accelerator


Abu Dhabi: startAD, the innovation and entrepreneurship platform anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, has opened applications for its inaugural Artificial Intelligence (AI) Venture Launchpad.

Open to seed stage AI and Internet of Things (IoT) startups from the UAE and around the globe, the AI Venture Launchpad is a 10-day sprint accelerator that helps participants develop a scalable, repeatable, and capital efficient venture. Teams disrupting industries in financial technology (FinTech), insurance technology (InsurTech), regulatory technology (RegTech), airport operations, predictive maintenance, fuel efficiency, and enterprise solutions through AI with Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning, Predictive Analytics, Search, and Data Analytics are encouraged to apply.

This accelerator is an opportunity for global startups to enter the UAE market and attract potential investments from key players in the region. Teams can apply through startAD’s website []; applications close on August 30.

Launching on September 30, the program is held in partnership with Etihad Aviation Group, a diversified global aviation and travel group comprising of five business divisions – Etihad Airways, Etihad Airways Engineering, Etihad Airport Services, Hala Group and Airline Equity Partners; UAE Exchange, the leading global Money Transfer, Foreign Exchange and payment solutions brand; and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the International Financial Centre in Abu Dhabi.  The Artificial Intelligence Venture Launchpad will comprise a series of training and mentorship sessions, investor roundtables, pitches, interviews, local customer discovery, and validation activities. Startups will also be trained to develop robust go-to-market strategies. Selected teams are required to attend the full duration of the accelerator.

NYU Abu Dhabi Research Professor of Engineering, Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and startAD Managing Director Ramesh Jagannathan said: “The UAE, home to significant global industries such as aviation, energy, shipping, transportation, and finance, has a distinct opportunity to be at the forefront of AI growth. Disruptive Innovation creates products and services for which the market does not yet exist. AI and machine learning, in addition to disrupting the market, are disrupting the way our society would live with the onset of the second machine age. The appointment of a UAE Minister of AI is a testament to the government’s commitment to lead this field. In line with the country’s vision, startAD has created valuable partnerships with major corporate stakeholders in the region and are excited to provide market validation for global AI startups that get accepted into our Venture Launchpad sprint accelerator.”   

Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways Peter Baumgartner said: “The aviation industry has relied on various forms of AI for decades, but with recent advancements in computing power, its potential to add value across the sector is unprecedented.  Combined with big data and machine learning, AI could be used to increase flight path efficiency by reading wind forecasts, optimize aircraft maintenance, and enhance airport operations, to name just a few examples. This is our second time taking part in startAD’s Venture Launchpad programme, and we look forward to working with startups to explore innovative applications of AI in the aviation and travel space.”

Executive Director for Capital Markets of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM Wai Lum Kwok said: “As an International Financial Centre and FinTech eco-system builder, we are pleased to partner with NYU Abu Dhabi and fellow Abu Dhabi champions in incubating entrepreneurial ideas and supporting early-stage startups in Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE.  The Venture Launchpad initiative dovetails well with ADGM’s innovation platforms and ongoing efforts to support the needs of the business community through digital innovation, and to promote growth, inclusion and efficiency in the financial services industry.”

Executive Director of Finablr and Chief Executive Officer of UAE Exchange Group Promoth Manghat said: "As a startAD industry partner, we are glad to be a key collaborator for the Artificial Intelligence Venture Launchpad. It is fascinating to see how rapidly AI has evolved and matured, with its application and benefits now cutting across industries and functional domains. As an early adopter, we are already leveraging AI and Machine Learning Solutions to enhance customer experience and to automate back office operations. In line with our vision of fostering technology-driven innovative solutions, we believe this inaugural AI accelerator programme will take the lead in stimulating innovation in AI in the region."

About startAD

startAD is an innovation and entrepreneurship platform, anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, that supports early stage startups in the UAE.  In collaboration with Tamkeen, an Abu Dhabi Government-owned company, startAD seeks to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UAE by offering core programs and entrepreneurship initiatives. These programs enable the development of technology startups in emerging local industries of strategic importance to the UAE such as energy, aviation, logistics, fintech, smart transportation and facilitate investment in local-based startups.

Selected startups that display outstanding potential and promise may also benefit from ADvance mentoring and seed funding from startAD to help scale their businesses.

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About Tamkeen

Tamkeen is an Abu Dhabi Government-owned company that delivers projects to meet the Government of Abu Dhabi’s vision of knowledge-based development. This is achieved by collaborating with a variety of local and international institutions to enrich the Emirate’s social, cultural and educational infrastructure in line with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly-selective liberal arts, engineering and science curriculum with a world center for advanced research and scholarship enabling its students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from 115 nations and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.

© Press Release 2018

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