Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi’s biggest listed developer, has awarded pilot projects to five technology start-ups as part of the second cycle of its Scale Up accelerator programme that was unveiled last year in partnership with Majid Al Futtaim Communities.
The five selected businesses specialise in spatial and artificial intelligence, blockchain, non-fungible token (NFT) applications and data analytics, Aldar said on Monday.
The selected companies include spatial business intelligence platform LlamaZoo, augmented reality-focused media company Darabase and Geotwin, an advanced computing and research start-up that offers a low-risk and cost-efficient way for organisations to test and evaluate strategies and investments.
Metaverse Architects, an advisory company in the Metaverse sector, and Sook Space were also selected as part of the programme.
“The real estate technology start-up landscape has grown over 300 per cent in the past decade, with an estimated 8,000 PropTech [property technology] companies identified, said Maan Al Awlaqi, executive director of strategy and transformation at Aldar Properties.
He said there was significant demand for PropTech platforms in the UAE, particularly with the global shift towards Web3.
“Selected start-ups have demonstrated that their solutions can add real value to Aldar’s business model, whether through spatial intelligence platforms, monetising our real estate in the metaverse or by connecting our communities with experiential spaces,” Mr Al Awlaqi said.
“We see great potential in these pilot projects and look forward to working with them.”
The initiative is part of Aldar’s equity-free programme that provides a gateway for global technology start-ups to gain access to the UAE market. It was launched in February last year in association with startAD — an accelerator based at New York University Abu Dhabi.
The five start-ups were selected after a rigorous process in which more than 300 applications from 69 countries were assessed, Aldar said.
The metaverse is the emerging digital space in which people, represented by avatars or three-dimensional likenesses, can interact in virtual worlds.
It is part of Web3, which is being touted as the next iteration of the World Wide Web, with blockchain, decentralisation, openness and greater user utility among its core components.
The move comes at a time when the UAE's property market is continuing to recover from the coronavirus pandemic on the back of the government initiatives such as residency permits for retirees and remote workers, as well as the expansion of the 10-year golden visa programme and the economic boost generated by Expo 2020 Dubai.
The market has also benefitted from the country's widespread Covid-19 vaccination programme, which has kept cases relatively low.
The global metaverse industry is projected to grow to about $829 billion in 2028, from about $48bn in 2020, according to Emergen Research.
Web3, meanwhile, is expected to be valued at about $6.2bn in 2023, and is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 44.6 per cent from 2023 to 2030, according to Market Research Future.
Aldar Properties is also teaming up with US venture capital company Fifth Wall to invest in a fund focused on supporting property technology start-ups in Europe, it said last year.