As the UAE progressively moves towards being a more knowledge-based economy, it’s placed increasingly heavy emphasis on innovation.
In part, that emphasis has come from the government, with its National Innovation Strategy being particularly noteworthy. It hasn’t been on its own though. The private sector has also played a major role in driving innovation across the country.
Their collective efforts have created an environment increasingly open to startups and innovators.
Small wonder then that so many innovation hubs have sprung up across the UAE. Here are a few you should know about.
Launched in 2013, in5 supports entrepreneurs across the media, design, and tech spaces. Part of the TECOM group, in5 has three specialised Innovation Centres which provide aspiring students, entrepreneurs and startups with access to a diverse community of creative minds, facilitating the constant exchange of knowledge and passionate debate conducive to ideation.
Less innovation hub than accelerator, Turn8 takes startups and fuels them with investment, mentorship, training and year-long business development support.
The programme is complemented by a follow-on investment fund that helps them grow and scale globally.
Astrolabs labels itself as the region’s “premier coworking space and learning academy for digital technology companies”.
The coworking space representing over 80 startups building a variety of innovative technologies. The academy meanwhile delivers specialised courses on topics in digital business including digital marketing, coding, analytics & big data, UX design, and business development.
Headquartered in the Dubai Design District, Wamda aims to accelerate entrepreneurship ecosystems throughout the MENA region. Its core focus includes media, community development, research, corporate, and government advisory services.
As well as investing in, and supporting startups, Wamda does conducts research on the state of entrepreneurship across the region.
Flat6Labs is a regional startup accelerator programme that invests in innovative startupsr across the MENAuns region, with its UAE hub located in Abu Dhabi.
According to its website, the programme provides seed funding, strategic mentorship, a creative workspace, a multitude of perks, entrepreneurship-focused business training, and directly supports startups through an expansive network of partner entities, mentors and investors.
Techshop is a great space for innovators working in the physical and hardware space. Among the equipment available at its locations are laser cutters, plastics and electronics labs, a machine shop, a woodshop, a metalworking shop, a textiles department, and welding stations. Its members also have open access to design software, featuring the Autodesk Design Suite.
Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Techshop has open membership, with monthly and annual options available.
Located in Dubai’s Downtown District, Impact Hub Dubai is a self-described community of entrepreneurs, creatives and techies.
As well as a world-class co-working space, the hub offers workshops, events, networking and innovation labs.
One thing that sets Impact Hub Dubai apart is that some of its membership options allow for 24-hour access, making it ideal for innovators who are all about the hustle.
Dubai Internet City’s announced its Innovation Hub in celebration of its 15th anniversary back in 2014.
The hub 1.8 million square feet set aside to create a vibrant community of innovators exploring new ideas in technology, new media, smart education and the sciences.
When complete in 2019, the Hub is set to have 15 000-strong workforce with a “massive cluster of communications and technology facilities”.