The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (Adio) has partnered with Microsoft and Plug and Play to roll out initiatives aimed at supporting the region's technology start-ups.
The programmes in Abu Dhabi will increase opportunities for early-stage businesses from 2021 onwards, Adio said in a statement on Tuesday.
Through its partnerships with Microsoft and Plug and Play, Adio will provide strategic funding for key projects that support growth-driven companies.
"We are committed to deepening our support for investors and innovators in 2021, and have partnered with leading start-up enablers and accelerators from around the world to provide the community with greater access to financing, networks and mentorship," Tariq Bin Hendi, director general of Adio, said.
Technology, particularly in healthcare and agriculture, is a priority for the UAE as it seeks to attract innovative companies, draw high-skilled talent, create jobs and diversify its economy.
Abu Dhabi is positioning itself as a technology hub and is looking 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 and ease doing business in the emirate.
Adio has partnered with Microsoft to launch a series of initiatives under the Microsoft for Startups Programme, which provides technology, Azure cloud services, business support tools and programmes to develop skillsets within start-ups with the aim of accelerating their growth.
Under the agreement, Microsoft will manage several programmes over a five-year period to support the regional technology start-up ecosystem. The first is “Microsoft Growth X Accelerator”, a virtual accelerator with a focus on recruiting local and regional startups.
The second is “Highway to 100 Unicorns”, an initiative that runs activities for start-ups through regional partners to recruit businesses with high-potential for the accelerator as well as future programmes in the pipeline that will be run by Microsoft and Adio.
Further initiatives focused on entrepreneurship for Emiratis, UAE residents and university students will be launched in the coming months, the government entity said.
Adio also agreed to support three initiatives created by Plug and Play, a US-based technology platform that has been running technology accelerator programmes from the Abu Dhabi Global Market financial free zone since 2017.
The investment office will provide funding for Plug & Play's local FinTech and HealthTech accelerators, as well as a programme covering a third sector set to be rolled out in the first half of this year. As part of the agreement, Adio will provide funding for the accelerators.
"Over the past three years and going forward, our focus will be to continue creating real business opportunities for innovative local, regional and international startups that can have a lasting impact on critical sectors through corporate and government collaborations," Saeed Amidi, chief executive and founder of Plug and Play, said.