UAE’s major free zones focused on innovation, the Sharjah Research Technology & Innovation Park’s (SRTI Park) accelerator program’s second edition has welcomed over 750 individual and company startups from around the world.
Sharjah Advanced Industry Accelerator 2.0 (SAIA) was developed in line with the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) and the UAE’s industrial strategy “Operation 300bn”, a 10-year comprehensive policy to empower and expand the industrial sector to become the driving force of a sustainable national economy, by increasing its contribution to the GDP from the current $36.2 billion to $81.6 billion (Dhs300 billion) in 2031.
The accelerator program started at a time when the world is recovering from the pandemic and innovative companies searching for stable places to grow. SAIA 2.0 aims to transform the UAE into a strong hub of advanced technologies in research, artificial intelligence (AI), additive manufacturing, robotics, petrochemicals, agro-industries, healthcare, biotechnology, as well as clean and renewable energy.
“SAIA 2.0 was launched as a platform for startups to introduce their products and innovations to global markets while they forge on establishing local and regional partnerships,” Mr. Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park stated.
The program reflects the vision of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to boost the innovative sector in the emirate by attracting creators globally. Further, it is in line with the UAE’s Unified Industrial Brand Identity, “Make It in the Emirates”.
According to the annual global assessment of countries’ competitiveness and capabilities of economies based on science and technology, the UAE is ranked first in the Arab world and 31st globally in the classification of the “most friendly countries” for startups.
“The SRTI Park is already home to more than 160 emerging companies specializing in advanced innovative technologies, working in various sectors. They have chosen the techno hub to practice their activities and a substantial number of them have concluded investment deals with several local companies under the umbrella of the Sharjah Angel Investors Network (SAIN).”
SAIA 2.0 was launched in May with a total prize pool worth $450,000. Eight startups will be selected to participate in the virtual accelerator and will benefit from local incubation support and venture scaling beyond the accelerator program.
The winning startup will get the grand prize worth $100,000. Startups operating in Advanced Industries, Manufacturing Tech, Smart Cities, Sustainable Design, Construction Tech, Smart Materials, Drone and Robotics, and AI have applied to the SAIA program.