Dubai mobilises innovation fund

04 August 2016

$272m fund allocated for research and development

The Dubai government has allocated AED1bn ($272m) for the Dubai Future Accelerators Programme, which aims to promote research, development and entrepreneurship across key sectors including education, healthcare, sustainability and mobility.

The programme is part of the broader Dubai Future Agenda, previously approved by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, UAE vice-president and prime minister and ruler of Dubai.

The fund will be allocated to companies and projects participating in the programme over the next five years, according to Mohammed al-Gergawi, managing director of the Dubai Future Foundation and minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future.

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) said it will strongly support the programme. Its CEO, Saeed Mohammed al-Tayer, said the utilities company will continuously support research and development (R&D) to “facilitate rapid development.”

”We work to develop new technology, renewable energy solutions, and adopt the best international practices,” Al-Tayer said in a company statement.

Dewa has been focusing on the adoption of mobile computing, cloud computing, virtualisation, distribution systems, internet-of-things (IoT), robotic technology and big data, among others, to enhance its customer services, Al-Tayer said.

Apart from these technologies, Dewa has also started using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to assist the emirate’s energy and water sectors.

It is not clear how many drones have been deployed by Dewa, or the specific applications they are catering to now or in future.

Al-Tayer also said his agency is expected to benefit from the Innovation Centre, recently established at the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park. The Centre is understood to be equipped with the latest technologies in the field of renewable and clean energy.

Al-Tayer said the centre will help enhance “national energy capabilities and support business competitiveness in the UAE.”

The Dubai Future Agenda has identified seven future challenges and has assigned key government agencies to address each.

Dewa has been assigned to tackle the first challenge of reducing water and energy consumption. The Dubai Roads Authority (RTA) has been committed to reducing transport-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by halving the transport congestion level within the emirate.

The Dubai Municipality has been assigned to test sustainable and automated building materials including robotics, automation, bacteriological, mycology, algae, biomimicry, regenerative systems, sand-based 3D printing materials, among others, while the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is tasked to “harness Dubai’s genetic diversity and use genomics, analytics and telepresence to speed up the delivery of effective healthcare services.”

The Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority will take up challenges pertaining to education, Dubai Holding will look into deploying digital solutions across the hospitality, real-estate and telecoms sectors, and the Dubai Police is tasked to test and develop integrated, genetic and biological systems for identifying, tracking and sharing information on criminals particularly across borders and jurisdictions.

Dubai is seen to play a leading role in the smart transformation of cities and government services delivery in the region.

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