The region's first sustainability-focused startup accelerator, the Catalyst, was launched during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) and is now accepting applications from local and international entrepreneurs.
The "accelerator" initiative launched by Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, Masdar, and the international oil and gas company, BP, at Masdar City free zone in Abu Dhabi prioritises businesses at the commercialisation stage, offering expenditures, training, mentoring and office space.
The initiative is also collaborating with the Masdar Institute, part of the Khalifa University of Science and Technology, the core tenant of Masdar City.
Successful applicants will be those developing innovative products and solutions that are potentially patentable, with priority given to UAE-based startups.
The Catalyst runs in two cycles per year, split into two phases.
The first three-month phase is devoted to scouting up to 50 applicants. The second phase which lasts up to four months involves choosing startups from a 10-strong shortlist, deploying the capital and hands-on training and support.
The Masdar-BP joint venture hopes to select up to six startups per cycle per year. Licensing will be managed through the Masdar City free zone.
To raise awareness and attract interest, the Catalyst is participating in the Climate Innovation Exchange, CLIX, during ADSW, a platform endorsed by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment connecting youth, entrepreneurs and innovators with investors to promote climate change solutions.
Businesses chosen through the Catalyst will receive ongoing support to help incubate UAE-based knowledge industries and intellectual property-based partnerships.
"With homegrown clean-tech businesses now emerging in the UAE, as well as other accelerator initiatives such as CLIX at ADSW and Krypto Labs here at Masdar City, now is the time to relaunch the Catalyst to further incentivise the business ecosystem in sustainability taking root in the Middle East and international markets," said Mohammed Al Fardan, director of Masdar Free Zone.
Today, Masdar City free zone hosts more than 530 tenants, a number expected to exceed 800 by 2020.
"The Catalyst will contribute to sustainable innovative thinking," said Salem bin Ashoor, general manager and chief representative for BP in Abu Dhabi. "Innovation remains crucial to the energy industry for maximising economic recovery and reducing cost as well as securing long-term sustainability. This will support creating high-quality jobs, strengthening and diversifying economic performance aligned with Abu Dhabi's 2030 plan."