Hub71, e& enterprise and US-based DataRobot to open AI centre in Abu Dhabi

Start-ups, investors and the private sector will work together to develop and scale commercial AI products

The annual Hub71 Impact Report 2021 shows Abu Dhabi’s global tech start-ups have gathered venture capital investment worth about Dh1.5 billion since inception. Photo: Hub71
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Abu Dhabi's technology start-up centre Hub71 is partnering with e& enterprise, part of e& (formerly known as Etisalat), to open the UAE’s first AI Centre of Excellence in the capital.

The centre will bring together start-ups, investors and the private sector to identify business challenges that can be addressed by developing new artificial intelligence applications.

Predictive modelling in health care, financial services, retail and industry are the priority sectors for the new centre, Kamran Ahsan, senior director of AI and smart data at e& enterprise, told The National on Thursday.

The UAE, the Arab world's second-largest economy, is expected to benefit the most in the Middle East from AI adoption. The technology is expected to contribute up to 14 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product — equivalent to $97.9 billion — by 2030, according to consultancy PwC.

AI offers "immense potential in sectors that are of strategic importance to Abu Dhabi’s socio-economic growth. In support of the objectives outlined in the UAE Centennial 2071 strategy that focuses on entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity, we at Hub71 are committed to further developing technologies that act as a catalyst in progressing a dynamic and diversified economy", said Badr Al Olama, acting chief executive of Hub71.

He said that the partnership will promote AI solutions in Abu Dhabi, with the aim of scaling up these technology offerings for export beyond the region.

The new centre will be supported by US unicorn (start-ups valued at more than $1bn) DataRobot, which signed a three-year strategic partnership agreement with e& enterprise, formerly known as Etisalat Digital, earlier this month.

DataRobot is one of the most widely used AI cloud platforms in the market today, delivering more than a trillion predictions for companies around the world, including a third of the Fortune 50. The global AI company will launch the first AI as a Service (AlaaS) offering in the region with e& enterprise.

Salvador Anglada, chief executive of e& enterprise, with Hub71 chief executive Badr Al Olama. Photo: Hub71

“The AI Centre of Excellence, supported by our strategic partner DataRobot, will further progress our vision to be the leading digital enabler for our enterprise and government clients as we empower them to become data-driven and highly automated organisations," said Salvador Anglada, chief executive of e& enterprise.

E& enterprise plans to set up new ventures and incubate new use cases for AI at the Centre of Excellence.

Start-ups can apply to the AI CoE through Hub71’s incentive programme and The Outliers, another Hub71 programme that includes e& enterprise as a partner to solve challenges that corporates and the government face by providing innovative solutions pitched by start-ups.

Hub71 is a flagship initiative of the Dh50 billion Ghadan 21 economic stimulus programme and was founded in 2019 by the Abu Dhabi government, Mubadala Investment Company, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Microsoft and Japan's SoftBank Group. It helps entrepreneurs to build tech companies with a global outreach, as the emirate seeks to diversify its economy away from oil.

Its start-ups have so far raised Dh1.5bn of investment through the tech ecosystem’s corporate partners, according to data released earlier this year. The companies have been responsible for creating 1,000 new jobs.

Updated: June 30, 2022, 2:25 PM