Aldar offers accelerator programme for PropTech start-ups

UAE's biggest developer will give five companies the chance to work with it on pilot projects

Aldar's HQ building in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National
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The UAE's biggest listed property company, Aldar, has joined forces with startAD, an accelerator at NYU Abu Dhabi, to roll out a programme for property technology (PropTech) start-ups.

The initiative, known as Aldar Scale Up, will choose a number of global PropTech companies to get involved in a four-month online programme. Five companies will be chosen at the end of the period to partner with Aldar on pilot projects.

Start-ups will provide ways of addressing challenges in the real estate sector such as effective energy management, the development of smart cities and the protection of biodiverse ecosystems, Aldar said in a statement on Tuesday.

The programme provides an opportunity for promising start-ups to connect with larger businesses and receive help to scale their businesses and grow in Abu Dhabi, Maan Al Awlaqi, executive director of strategy and transformation at Aldar, said.

“The PropTech sector seems to be finally gaining steam globally and is revolutionising the landscape … as this narrative evolves, it is important that companies remain agile by tapping into emerging trends and investing time and resources in property technology,” he added.

Aldar, which has a market capitalisation of almost Dh25.6bn, on Sunday announced a new group operating model that will see a parent company overseeing its two main operating divisions –investment and development. Within the development arm, a new unit known as Adnoc Ventures has been created to "incubate and nurture new business opportunities and innovation areas", the developer said.

Ten companies in total will be given the chance to pitch to a selection committee at the end of the programme. In addition to working on pilot projects with Aldar, PropTech start-ups will be offered the opportunity to work with other UAE companies, Aldar said. 
"Infrastructure and construction programmes are known to have a direct link to economic growth, job creation and reduction of poverty," Ramesh Jagannathan, vice-provost for entrepreneurship at NYU Abu Dhabi, and managing director of startAD, said.

Abu Dhabi's Hub71 technology accelerator will also join the programme’s selection committee.

PropTech start-ups selected for Aldar Scale Up will also automatically be shortlisted for Hub71’s incentive programme, which offers more than $400,000 worth of equity-free subsidies including free housing, health insurance and office space for up to three years.

The construction sector needs to spend close to $57 trillion by 2030 to keep pace with global gross domestic product growth, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.

“That is more than 60 per cent of what has been spent in the last two decades. Interestingly, 40 per cent of this spend could be recouped through improved productivity by digitalisation, and embracing currently available technologies,” Mr Jagannathan said.