The UAE has launched a new programme aimed at supporting and honouring the top 100 start-ups that will have a significant impact on the country's economy and boost its readiness for the future.
The Future 100 initiative will support new economic sectors such as space, renewable energy and emerging technology, which will shape the country's future economy, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Governmental Development and Future said at its launch in Dubai on Tuesday.
The top 100 future-ready companies will be honoured annually, based on “clear” criteria, objectives and aspects, and would also help in defining new parameters for the future economy, said Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq.
“The question in 2020 was: 'what will the GDP of the UAE look like in the future economy? … are we going to stay and wait for another pandemic to take action and try to rectify these things?' So we took it upon us to really lead the economy,” he said at the launch, referring to the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which severely affected the global economy.
“The most important part of it is [that] these economic changes [used to] have a lagged impact of about two years. Today, there is a huge diversification in terms of [growth impact] numbers.”
The UAE is among the most proactive governments worldwide, drawing up programmes to support the economy and keep it ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing landscape defined by digital transformation.
To achieve the goals of the future economy, the government has already launched several initiatives.
These include the UAE Centennial 2017 road map, the Fifty Economic Plan, the Emirates Blockchain Strategy, the Green Growth Strategy, the Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Circular Economy Policy, the National Programme for Artificial Intelligence 2031 and the Energy Strategy 2050.
“Because of the UAE's futuristic vision, we are today enjoying a successful and unique development model,” Ohoud Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Developmental and Future, said at the launch.
“In the next 20 years, the pace of change will be more than what it is today. It is difficult to predict the future, but we know it will be different and we have to be ready for it.”
Meanwhile, the start-up ecosystem has received a strong boost in recent years as entrepreneurs tap into innovation to address consumer needs.
The industry received a further boost in October when the Ministry of Economy launched its updated Entrepreneurial Nation programme, which seeks to develop more than 8,000 small and medium enterprises and start-ups by 2030.
Funding for start-ups in the UAE — one of the top destinations for venture capital investments in the Mena region — rose by about 5 per cent in the third quarter to $148 million, according to start-up platform Magnitt.
Ahmad Alwan, deputy chief executive of Hub71, Abu Dhabi's technology ecosystem, said the Emirates was among the top countries in the world when it comes to start-ups.
“Not only are we able to attract opportunities, but we are also ready to transfer knowledge,” he said.
He was joined at a panel discussion by Faisal Belhoul, vice chairman of the Dubai Chamber, and Mohammed Al Musharrakh, chief executive of Invest in Sharjah.
Future 100 also aims to boost the UAE's ranking in global indexes, particularly in criteria such as competitiveness, entrepreneurship and investment.
Within the programme, the Emirates aims to pitch a number of benefits and incentives to young entrepreneurs and help them to establish start-ups with new ideas, eventually transforming them into international businesses.