Etihad Airways and Hub71 partner to support tech start-ups

The airline will tap into Hub71's community of entrepreneurs to source solutions for the aviation industry and explore mentorship opportunities

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Aviation Group COO and Hanan Al Yafei Hub71 CEO sign MOU LR. Courtesy Etihad
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Etihad Airways will partner with Abu Dhabi's Hub71 to support tech start-ups by granting discounted travel rates and exploring opportunities for aviation projects.

Under the agreement, Etihad will become the official airline partner of Hub71 and will tap into the community of entrepreneurs to work on innovation-driven solutions, workshops, and community events while also providing mentorship opportunities, Hub71 said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Technology and innovation play a key role in supporting the restart of the aviation industry during the Covid pandemic," Mohammad Al Bulooki, chief operating officer of Etihad Aviation Group, said. "Etihad looks forward to working with Hub71’s global pool of innovators to actively source, support and enable the rapid trial and production of promising solutions for the aviation industry."

Abu Dhabi's Hub71, created with Dh520m from Abu Dhabi’s Ghadan 21 economic stimulus programme, is home to 102 start-ups presently and is continuing to attract successful companies from around the world. Hailing from 20 different countries, about 44 per cent are from the UAE while start-ups from the US and the UK make up 11 per cent each. Abu Dhabi’s global tech start-up space also includes firms from Israel, South Korea, Czech Republic and Nigeria, which joined in December 2020.

The global aviation industry has been leveraging technology to help re-start travel safely with the use of digital health passports such as the Iata Travel Pass.

“As the world prepares to open up, global connectivity will be vital for our growing community of start-up founders to be in a position to export their innovative products and services to new markets," Hanan Al Yafei, chief executive of Hub71, said.

The strategic partnership with Etihad will "help grow technology-driven businesses that can sustain the aviation industry with bold new ideas and innovations", she said.

Hub71 start-ups have raised Dh185 million ($50.4m) in 2020.

Abu Dhabi's tech start-up space has built the community with support from funding and strategic partnerships with Mubadala, SoftBank Vision Fund, Microsoft and Abu Dhabi Global Market.

The UAE's capital city is positioning itself as a technology hub through initiatives like Hub71, seeking to attract companies in sectors that are crucial to its growth such as agricultural technology, health care and renewable energy.

It is focused on projects that invest in innovative start-ups, develop strategic industries such as local manufacturing, attracting high-tech talent and creating new jobs.