The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world's biggest sovereign wealth funds, has launched its new innovation centre, kickstarting operations with the announcement of a $100,000 research award that focuses on investment strategies.
The Adia Lab, which was first announced in October, is an independent entity that will focus on data and computational sciences, with broad research goals that are not specific to investment-related applications, Adia said in a statement on Friday, the UAE's 51st National Day.
Among the areas it will focus on are climate change, energy transition, blockchain, financial inclusion, investing, automation, cyber-security, health sciences, education, telecommunications and space.
It issued a call for papers for a study on “Adia Lab Award for Causal Research in Investments” — centred on finance and economics, with a particular focus on investment strategies — with the $100,000 prize to be divided between the authors of the top three submissions, it said.
On a broader scale, the Adia Lab is expected to play a proactive role in the development of Abu Dhabi’s digital ecosystem, in which the government has invested heavily.
“One of the key drivers at Adia Lab is our collaboration with leading academic institutions, both here in the UAE and globally, in support of the growth of Abu Dhabi as an international hub for technology and innovation,” Horst Simon, director and advisory board member of the Adia Lab, said in the statement.
Joining him on the board are Alex Pentland, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rousseeuw Prize winner Miguel Hernan, Turing Award recipient Jack Dongarra, Edward Jung, chief technology officer at Intellectual Ventures, and Marcos Lopez de Prado and Alex Lipton, global heads of quantitative research and development at Adia.
Abu Dhabi's initiatives in an era of global digital transformation are helping the emirate position itself at the forefront of integrating advanced technologies into its economy and society.
The UAE capital already leads the Middle East in the global smart city index, ranking 28th, a 2021 report from the Institute for Management Development and the Singapore University for Technology and Design showed.
Adia — well placed to keep pace and capitalise on challenging market conditions in the past couple of years — is capitalising on its technology and data analytics capabilities as it charts its future investment opportunities.
As the narrative globally focused on rising inflation and the effects on the global economy last year, the authority sought out opportunities in regions and subregions with high potential over the long term as it continued to build its direct exposure to private markets, it said in its 2021 annual report released in October.
“Longer term, there are a number of other important themes that will profoundly reshape the investing landscape over time," Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed, managing director of Adia, said at the time.
"These include the rise of data-driven investing, which is providing new ways of identifying opportunities for outperformance, while also reducing the time available to capitalise on them."
Abu Dhabi's push has led to an influx of investments from global technology companies, including for boosting cloud services, data centres, artificial intelligence, smart cities and R&D collaborations, among several others.
Alongside the launch of the Adia Lab are partnerships with local and international academic institutions, which will conduct joint research, academic programmes, internship opportunities and publications, among others.
The organisations collaborating with the Adia Lab include Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, New York University Abu Dhabi, University of Toronto Canada, and Institut Louis Bachelier France.
These partnerships are expected to be expanded "in the coming weeks", Mr Simon said.
The Adia Lab will encourage multi-disciplinary collaboration and aims to provide solutions for large-scale and complex problems through a "team science approach", Mr Simon said.
“To accomplish these goals, we seek far-reaching collaborations with academic institutions, industry, and international partners and scientists. Our doors are open, and now we’re excited to explore new collaborations and play a role in Abu Dhabi’s growing and vibrant ecosystem.”