Silicon Valley's Plug and Play to launch travel startups accelerator programme in Abu Dhabi

Programme in partnership with Etihad Airways and Department of Culture and Tourism to start in third quarter

Plug and Play, Silicon Valley’s tech accelerator that counts Google and Dropbox among its investments, is launching a travel and hospitality accelerator programme at the Abu Dhabi Global Market, the emirate's international financial hub.

Plug and Play and ADGM will partner with Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) to start the programme, it said in a statement on Wednesday. The airline and DCT will define the focus of the programme based on their needs and the partners will accordingly select startups to join the programme.

"The travel and hospitality sector is critical to Abu Dhabi’s socio-economic development and we are delighted to form this strategic partnership with Plug and Play ADGM to collectively establish an infrastructure which will enable innovation to flourish in the aviation sector,” Tony Douglas, chief executive of Etihad Aviation Group, said.

The Travel and Hospitality accelerator program will start in the third quarter of this year and the selected startups will operate at ADGM. The partners will be able to leverage Plug and Play’s ecosystem of more than 25 travel and hospitality companies globally, from Silicon Valley to Singapore.

Plug and Play ADGM started their first FinTech accelerator programme in third quarter of last year in partnership with the financial hub. Plug and Play, which says it is the biggest accelerator in the world, opened its office in ADGM after signing a partnership with the international finance centre to bring its FinTech start-ups to the capital to work.

Plug and Play is seeking to attract Gulf banks to work with its FinTech start-ups in Abu Dhabi and is considering expansion into sectors from healthcare to smart cities, Omeed Mehrinfar, managing partner of Plug and Play Middle East, told The National last year.