• Three sustainability focused technology start-ups recognized for their transformative innovations at Make it in the Emirates Forum.
• Inaugural competition draws almost 400 submissions, including more than 200 from overseas.
• More than AED200,000 in prize money to help winning start-ups scale their technologies.
Abu Dhabi, UAE. 2 June 2023 – The winners of the inaugural Make it in the Emirates Start-up Pitch Competition were announced on Thursday at the Make it in the Emirates Forum that took place in Abu Dhabi.
Three startups were revealed as winners of the first edition of the Make it in the Emirates Startup Competition. Twenty-four startups were shortlisted to participate in the competition by a panel of industry experts from a pool of almost 400 submissions, 60 percent of which were from overseas. First, second and third place winners received AED100,000, AED70,000 and AED50,000, respectively, to scale up and grow their businesses.
The first winner was VFlow Tech, a Singaporean start-up that provides innovative, reliable and large-scale storage solutions using flow batteries to unlock the full power of renewables. The second winner was The Food Engine, a UAE-based start-up that has developed an automated vertical aeroponic farming system that uses 90 percent less water than traditional agriculture. The third winner was Farmin, a spin-off of Khalifa University that uses satellite imagery super resolution along with AI to acquire critical and predictive insights that can provide highly accurate AI models to detect changes down to 4m2.
The Make it in the Emirates Start-up Competition, launched by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT), brought together local and international technology start-ups that have the potential to drive the decarbonization and digitalization of industry to pitch their ideas to investors and industry players.
The competition invited transformative start-ups seeking to have a global impact to showcase and pitch new innovations and technologies. The competition also provided the start-ups with the opportunity to further develop and deploy their technologies in the UAE in collaboration with various industry partners, some of which committed to deploy pilot projects with the winning startups.
Start-ups from around the world, including from the UAE, Japan, Germany, Korea, Singapore, India, the UK, and the US among others, submitted applications. Competition was stiff with entrepreneurs pitching their technologies in front of major national institutions, industry leaders, investors, incubators and technology experts.
Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, said: “As a hub for innovation, science and technology, the UAE provides the ideal platform for technology start-ups to pilot new concepts and scale breakthrough solutions that address challenges such as climate change as well as support economic growth.”
Her Excellency continued: “Technology startups are an engine of economic growth. They create employment opportunities, introduce new products and services, drive innovation, and can efficiently solve some of the world's greatest challenges. Creating an enabling environment for high-tech startups to thrive in the UAE is at the top of our agenda and a key pillar of our integrated industrial and advanced technology strategy.
She added: “This competition is part of the ministry's efforts to support the development and commercialization of technology in the UAE in line with the Technology Transformation Program and the UAE Net Zero strategy. Not only do these efforts help to create economic value, but they also play an important role in fostering potentially game changing technologies that can drive climate action and boost our decarbonization efforts.”
Applicants included start-ups focused on fields such as renewable energy, transportation & mobility, AI & robotics, biopharma, thermal management, agriculture, consumer goods, advanced materials, manufacturing, construction and utilities, and graphene.
The judging panel comprised representatives from Aspire, EDGE Group, Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, Technology Innovation Institute, Dubai Industrial City, UAE University, Catalyst, Yokogawa, Halliday Growth, MODUS Capital, HUB71, Schneider Electric, and Strata.
Start-ups were evaluated on the innovation they demonstrated, their disruptive potential, their scalability and sustainability, as well as their marketing potential, competitive advantage, and positive social impact.
All the competing start-ups were able to connect with industry partners, investors, and other stakeholders during the Make it in the Emirates Forum, where they also gained insights on commercializing and upscaling new technologies.
The competition was sponsored by Aspire, Catalyst, Schneider Electric and Yokogawa.
The Make it in the Emirates Forum was organized by MoIAT in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and ADNOC. Through the forum, MoIAT brought together committed offtake agreements, enablers, incentives, and financing providers to cultivate the industrial sector.
With the forum this year taking place in the run-up to COP28, there was a particular focus on sustainable industrial development in line with the UAE's efforts to address climate change and deliver on the government's initiative of labeling 2023 as the ‘Year of Sustainability'.