880 businesses from 65 countries submitted applications to join MBRIF’s Accelerator and Guarantee Scheme programmes: Fatima Al Naqbi


ABU DHABI, 9th November, 2020 (WAM) — Since its launch in 2016, more than 880 businesses from 65 countries have submitted applications to join The Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund, MBRIF’s unique Accelerator and Guarantee Scheme programmes, said Fatima Alnaqbi, Chief Innovation Officer, MBRIF Representative of the Ministry of Finance In an interview with Emirates News Agency, WAM, Alnaqbi said innovation is an important aspect of any progressive society, particularly one such as the UAE.

“The country’s leaders have always emphasised the need to explore the limitless possibilities that are ahead of us, and have set the UAE on a unique path of innovation and exploration, powered by human potential,” Alnaqbi noted.

MBRIF, launched by the UAE Ministry of Finance, serves and leads the innovation ecosystem. It fosters a culture that welcomes unprecedented solutions to the world’s challenges, and enables a better community for us all.

The Ministry of Finance launched the ‘Innovation Report 2016-2020, Driving the Changemakers’, to highlight MBRIF’s work and achievements to date.

Since its launch in 2016, more than 880 businesses from 65 countries have submitted applications to join MBRIF’s unique Accelerator and Guarantee Scheme programmes. After carefully evaluating the applicants MBRIF selected 43 members, she added.

“Over the past four years, MBRIF members achieved remarkable growth and success. With the support of experts, numerous members have scaled their operations, expanded their footprint and revenue, garnered prestigious industry accolades, and raised funds that currently exceed AED 171 million. In the 2019 GITEX future stars, two MBRIF member companies won awards: Key2enable, a start-up that specialises in assistive technology solutions for people of determination, was awarded the Supernova Champion in the GITEX Future Stars’ Supernova Challenge 2019, and Pure Harvest, the UAE based agri-tech start-up won best GCC, Middle East and North Africa Start-up, said Alnaqbi.

In addition to assisting UAE-based innovators, she continued, the MBRIF also supported high potential innovators from around the world by offering its unique expertise and innovator-centric services.

“We seek innovators from across the world, we are also keen to support our local talent. More than half (27) of the selected companies are homegrown UAE businesses, with the rest of the members coming from nine other countries around the world. The member community is made up of diverse backgrounds and experiences, with 11 of the companies having been founded by women.”

The MBRIF, managed and operated by Emirates Development Bank, comprises two distinct programmes dedicated to empowering high potential innovators to contribute to the UAE’s innovation agenda and economic growth. The first programme, ‘Guarantee Scheme’ was launched in 2016. Since its launch, the Guarantee Scheme has supported the growth of innovators by offering them financial support without taking equity.

The second programme, ‘Accelerator’ was established in December 2018 to support local and global innovators to accelerate their business growth and achieve scalability, both in the UAE and internationally. The Accelerator provides innovators with world-class services, mentorship by a global network of experts and connections tailored to their needs.

According to Alnaqbi, the programme acts as a vehicle that identifies high potential innovators from across the globe, and more specifically the UAE. Through the Accelerator, we are building a nationwide culture of innovation that attracts some of the world’s best innovators to the country, and enables their innovation and work to have a positive impact on our society and the UAE economy.

“We have worked with 30 industry experts to support our members and established more than 120 priceless connections to boost innovators’ businesses. Our objectives are to seek and support innovators that align with the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy, the leadership’s vision for the future of our country, and those we believe can have a tangible impact on society here and internationally. Within this, there are seven priority sectors that will contribute to the development of the UAE. These sectors are education, health, renewable and clean energy, space, technology, transport, and water. Given the nature of innovation in a digitally driven world, 47 per cent of our accepted members to date are from the technology sector. Education innovators represent 18 per cent of our members, followed by health (14%) and transportation (12%).

Our ambition is to continue to enhance the development of the UAE’s innovation ecosystem, by nurturing talent and encouraging innovators to benefit from the supportive environment the emirates offers. The success of our members is exemplary of the endless opportunities that are available to the innovative business ecosystem throughout the UAE and the region. We hope that the MBRIF and its members will continue to greatly contribute and add positive value to the UAE economy.”

She went on to say, as of 2020, “we have 21 members in our current Accelerator cohort (2020), however, our support is also extended to Alumni Innovators, which brings the total number to 43 members. We continuously look forward to receiving applications from potential members as part of our commitment to foster innovation in the UAE and attracting high-potential innovators from across the world to the country.

Amongst MBRIF members, we had several members who turned their innovative solutions to support communities and businesses in minimising the impact of COVID-19 outbreak. Some of those members were Kinteract, Justice Chain and Addenda. Kinteract, an education-technology platform for continuous learning has provided free access to its remote learning solutions to the schools affected by COVID-19 for the rest of the academic year.”

“On the other hand, Justice Chain, a blockchain platform focused on public safety, has developed a blockchain application that anonymously tracks COVID-19 patients, sharing real-time critical case information securely with concerned health providers, clinicians, government authorities, researchers and laboratories. Finally, Addenda, a blockchain-based start-up using distributed ledger technology to streamline processes between insurance companies, has offered free access to its services to UAE-based new joiners throughout the month of April in 2020.

The work of our members during a time when the world is experiencing unprecedented challenges is exemplary of how companies of all sizes have the potential to make a positive economic and social impact. This also confirms the importance of supporting a strong innovators’ ecosystem in the UAE and around the world.”

Alnaqbi stated that in 2020 so far, we have had 248 innovators who registered their interest in MBRIF’s programmes across sectors including technology, renewable energy, water, education, healthcare and transportation.

Since its launch, the Guarantee Scheme has supported the growth of innovators by providing them with access to financial support without taking equity. MBRIF has supported innovators in its Guarantee Scheme programme throughout their journey which have led to great success so far. For example, Pure Harvest Smart Farms recently raised $20.6 million in Series A funding and secured an additional $100 million multi-year commitment –the largest ever agriculture technology investment in the MENA region.

RIZEK, tech start-up aiming to create more jobs across MENA, recently raised $3.5 million- one of the largest-ever seed rounds raised by a regional startup and this takes its total funding to $5 million. France-based Toucan Toco, a data storytelling platform launched in 2014 and member of the MBRIF Accelerator with a client list that includes more than 100+ Fortune 500 companies, had a particularly strong year in 2019, raising €12 million and winning the GITEX Future Stars Creative Economy Startup award.