The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence has unveiled a two new institutions designed to advance metaverse research and spur entrepreneurship in the start-up ranks.
The MBZUAI Metaverse Centre (MMC) and MBZUAI Incubation and Entrepreneurship Centre (MIEC) are aimed at promoting the potential of emerging technologies and support up-and-coming companies as they develop solutions for real-world challenges, the Abu Dhabi-based university said on Tuesday at the Gitex Global technology conference in Dubai.
The MMC is being positioned to create solutions to enhance user experience, and make the creation of digital environments more accessible and sustainable. Researchers will showcase advances in AI-generated 3D avatar content.
The MIEC aims to support start-ups in innovating and adopting AI in industries. It will offer entrepreneurship courses, local market familiarisation and funding opportunities.
“The launch of these centres demonstrates our university’s dedication to leading AI research and national priorities,” said Timothy Baldwin, acting provost of Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI).
“We are committed to developing a thriving AI ecosystem that not only strengthens partnerships with industry but also paves the way for innovative start-ups driven by the research foundations of the university.
“We look forward to exploring the limitless possibilities of AI as we empower talent that will help shape the UAE’s future.”
The metaverse, based on Web3, is a virtual space where people represented by avatars interact. It could reshape and streamline workplace and businesses operations with new techniques.
By 2035, metaverse technologies have the potential to add $16.7 billion to the economy of the UAE, the Arab world's second largest, a recent study by Facebook parent Meta Platforms showed.
Among the sectors expected to significantly benefit from adopting the metaverse are tourism, retail, property and gaming, the study said.
The start-up ecosystem, meanwhile, continues to expand as these companies take on the challenges of developing solutions for a world that is becoming increasingly digital in key sectors such as retail, services and commerce.
They play a key role in a digital economy and the UAE government has launched several initiatives to support their growth, banking on technology to drive economic growth and inclusion.
Abu Dhabi's technology push has attracted several global companies to lend their support, including Google, Meta Platforms and Microsoft, who have accelerators active in the country.
The value created by start-ups globally is about $3 trillion, which is almost on par with the gross domestic product of a G7 economy, according to advisory company Startup Genome.
The launches of the MMC and MIEC follow the establishment of two new departments and four graduate programmes at the MBZUAI designed to meet the growing global demand for robotics and computer science.
The programmes aim to help further develop the UAE’s wider AI ecosystem and position the country as an international hub for AI research and innovation, the university said.