Ecosystem News

Intelak Hub announces 2021 programmes for aviation and tourism start-ups


Open to applications from start-ups around the world from 13 June

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates:Intelak Hub, the region’s only start-up platform dedicated to the travel, tourism and aviation sectors, is inviting local, regional and international start-ups to apply for its new cohorts of programmes, commencing 13 June 2021.

Bringing together three distinct platforms – Intelak Incubator, Intelak Accelerator and the Intelak Idea Lab – the Intelak Hub is an important enabler for entrepreneurial growth, supported by Dubai’s strategic investment priorities and hyper-connected, global location.

Now in its second year, Intelak Hub is led by a consortium of industry leaders who serve as the platforms’ principle partners, taking a holistic approach to nurturing start-ups at all stages of growth. This includes, with all providing mentorship to programme participants: 

  • Dubai Tourism, with its extensive knowledge and reputation in destination marketing;
  • Emirates Group, with its established track record as world-class providers of air transport (Emirates) and air travel services (dnata);
  • Accenture, with its deep expertise shaping and connecting disruptive ecosystem start-ups to its clients
  • and Microsoft with its global scale and deep technology expertise in nurturing start-up.

With a substantial footprint across the world’s aviation, tourism, technology and innovation industries, the principle partners have built a robust ecosystem dedicated to mentoring start-ups from ideation through to equity-free funding, growth and scaling.  What’s more, programme participants will have access to a robust alumni pool for networking and business opportunities, in turn allowing them to approach more complex business challenges and benefit from collective perspectives.

Ranked eighth on Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking [April 2021], the UAE and Dubai continue to build on a strategic roadmap designed to drive business growth as well as R&D and first-of-its-kind regulatory sandboxes to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship.

Intelak Hub’s 2021 offerings include the IntelakIncubator, a 12-week programme for early stage start-ups offering equity-free funding, market feasibility guidance, pitch deck advisement, and demo day showcases where Dubai is used as a proof-of-concept for their solutions. Additionally, it will include AED 50,000 in equity-free funding, with the opportunity to showcase solutions at a demo day, and further access to ecosystem collaborations. 

The Intelak Accelerator is an eight-week programme for late stage start-ups looking to scale their businesses, offering comprehensive go-to-market counsel, access to partner ecosystems to test and implement their solutions, exhibition space and exclusive pitching and investor opportunities at GITEX Future Stars – a premier technology event for the region.

Finally, the IntelakIdea Lab is a three-week programme nurturing young Emirati talent as part of the UAE’s vision to develop and support home-grown innovation and entrepreneurship. Applicants can be considered for all programmes regardless of which programme they enter when joining Intelak Hub and start-ups do not need to be based in Dubai to take part. All cohort programmes will have a hybrid structure consisting of physical and digital components.

Yousuf Lootah, Executive Director – Tourism Development & InvestmentsDubai Tourism, said: “Intelak Hub is one of the strategic steps taken by Dubai Tourism to support the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to position Dubai as a global city at the forefront of innovation and technology. Launched last year amid the pandemic, Intelak Hub is testament to Dubai’s capacity to transform challenges into opportunities, as it has quickly and successfully entrenched itself within the start-up community as a catalyst for disruptive thinking. As we move into our second year under this platform, we are honoured to collaborate with our esteemed partners to drive entrepreneurship forward and leverage these pioneering programmes to support and empower the resurgence in international travel and tourism. We welcome applications from around the world and are excited at the prospect of engineering new ideas and aspirations to spur new growth and innovation across the industry.”

With Dubai positioned as one of world’s safest destinations and critically driving the global re-start of tourism, the opening of key sectors has allowed partners across the Dubai ecosystem to work together to deliver strong visitor experiences and travel confidence, including the world’s largest and first in-person business events, attracting hundreds of thousands of participants.

Alex Alexander, CTO Emirates Group, said: “Intelak Hub provides an unmatched opportunity for start-ups to connect with the world leaders in innovation, travel, tourism and aviation, to be inspired and to inspire those of us fortunate enough to be involved. The Emirates Group has seen immense success in partnering with Intelak Hub start-ups already, mentoring them, learning from them and helping to evolve their products for commercial success. The passion the founders and their teams have for improving the way people travel is incredibly inspiring and I have no doubt they will have a real, lasting impact on our industries into the future.”

Norberto Cibien, Products industry lead for Accenture in the Middle East, said: “Through Intelak Hub, Accenture is proud to contribute its extensive technology know-how and industry expertise towards building a startup ecosystem that translates into new opportunities for the UAE’s economy. We will continue to use this unique platform to engage and inspire our youth to transform their creative ideas into sustainable businesses at scale, in collaboration with our partners. This approach is aligned with Accenture’s strategy of empowering local communities and entrepreneurs to create innovative solutions that deliver a lasting impact.”

Sayed Hashish, General Manager, Microsoft UAE. “Microsoft’s mission is to enable every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more, and Intelak Hub holds a unique proposition for a sector that has seen tremendous disruption during the pandemic. As businesses begin to rebuild and reimagine themselves, the start-up segment will become more important than ever for our economies – driving innovation and growth by putting bold ideas into practice. Indeed, this year has already begun on a high note, with UAE start-ups attracting investment of $256 million in the first quarter. At Microsoft, we stand ready to support new businesses with our expertise and technologies as they actualise their potential and bring new ideas to life.”

Over the past five years Intelak Hub, previously known as Intelak Incubator and Futurism Accelerator, has worked with and supported programme participants from over 20 countries. Since 2016, previous programme participants have been awarded 1.4 Million AED in equity-free seed funding.

Bespoke, one-to-one mentorship matching and flexibility throughout programmes ensures that growth potential and scalability is maximised. Through clear guidance for location-based or digital participation in programmes, including establishing a base in Dubai, setting up a framework for doing business, and assistance with accommodation, there has been a clear transportation as well as connections to wider industry networks. 

Dubai has emerged as the most sought-after hub for regional and global start-ups. With one-third of the world’s population reachable within a four-hour flight from Dubai, and two-thirds reachable within an eight-hour flight, the UAE is ranked the fifth most connected country globally and number one in the region.

With its world-class physical and digital infrastructure; the city offers entrepreneurs and SMEs a platform for ease of set up and scale. Regulatory sandbox schemes and robust Intellectual Property laws have catalysed innovation across key sectors and provide start-ups with the confidence and freedom they need to innovate and develop creative solutions for the development and testing of new tech business models.