Abu Dhabi launches $136m fund to help industrial SMEs adopt smart manufacturing

Smart Manufacturing Incentive Programme aims to drive productivity and increase emirate's global competitiveness

Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development chairman Ahmed Al Zaabi speaking at the Make it in the Emirates forum. Photo: Added
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Abu Dhabi has launched a Dh500 million ($136 million) fund to help small and medium industrial enterprises adopt smart manufacturing technology, as the emirate seeks to boost the industrial sector’s contribution to the national economy.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (Added) introduced the Smart Manufacturing Incentive Programme and established the Smart Manufacturing Competence Centre to help SMEs keep pace with Industry 4.0 practices, the government body said on Wednesday.

The two new initiatives were announced at the sidelines of the Make it in the Emirates forum in the UAE capital on Wednesday.

"The launch of these two new initiatives is a valuable addition to our efforts to turbocharge the next phase of diversification strategy, as we believe supporting the transition to Industry 4.0 will positively contribute to driving innovation, enhancing growth of knowledge-based sectors and increasing non-oil GDP," said Ahmed Al Zaabi, chairman of Added.

The Dh500 million fund "reflects our efforts to provide financial support to SMEs manufacturers’ transformation towards Industry 4.0 applications and create a favourable, enabling investment environment".

The move will help boost the industrial sector’s competitiveness and attract domestic and foreign direct investment, he added.

Last year, the UAE increased the industrial sector’s contribution to national gross domestic product to Dh182 billion ($50 billion), a 38 per cent increase from Dh132 billion in 2020, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Cop28 President-designate, said earlier at the forum. This was achieved through a set of initiatives aimed at boosting industrial manufacturing and exports.

The value of the UAE’s industrial exports rose to Dh175 billion last year, a 49 per cent increase from 2020, on the back of the National Strategy for Industry and Advanced Technology launched by the ministry, he said.

Abu Dhabi is investing Dh10 billion across industrial programmes to more than double the size of its manufacturing sector to Dh172 billion, create 13,600 skilled jobs and increase the emirate’s non-oil exports to Dh178.8 billion by 2031.

"We remain committed to empower entrepreneurs and investors to benefit from ample opportunities provided by Abu Dhabi’s robust, resilient and business-friendly ecosystem," Mr Al Zaabi said.

The new five-year incentives programme aims to help 30 per cent of existing industrial SMEs in Abu Dhabi to adopt smart manufacturing methods, Added said.

It covers industrial SMEs operating in food processing, pharmaceutical, chemicals, machinery, transport, electrical and electronics.

Added's Industrial Development Bureau has invested in a team of assessors to provide technical guidance to eligible manufacturers in Abu Dhabi with no cost on them, it said.

The programme will run in collaboration with Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, which supports entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Meanwhile, the Smart Manufacturing Competence Centre will support the industrial sector transformation to industry 4.0 technology.

The centre will start operations in the first quarter of next year, focusing on accelerating efforts to adopt Industry 4.0 practices, developing new technology to drive growth, increasing the competitiveness of manufacturing sector and attracting foreign investment.

It will provide manufacturers with a detailed plan to understand and implement their digital transformation and become a one-stop-shop to help manufacturers in their digitisation journey.

Updated: May 31, 2023, 5:39 PM