UAE Innovation Week: Sheikh Mohammed launches $544M innovation fund

Published November 24th, 2015 - 01:00 GMT
Al Bawaba
Al Bawaba

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has launched a new fund worth Dh2 billion ($544.37 million) to finance innovation.

The ‘Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation’ is designed to provide financing solutions for innovators across various sectors within the UAE, and support them in transforming ideas and suggestions into innovation projects which will contribute to the country’s national innovation strategy and to achieving the UAE Vision 2021, said a statement.

The fund is a federal government initiative represented by the Ministry of Finance (MoF). The Fund has been established to enhance funding opportunities in areas of innovation, by providing reasonable funding to entrepreneurial innovators and guaranteeing access to the commercial loans required to finance their projects.

The Fund will also contribute to creating a supportive environment for innovation through the collaboration of various financial institutions and funding entities within the UAE, including commercial banks, investment funds, family businesses and other funding entities.    

The announcement of the Fund’s launch was made during a conference, ‘Financing Innovation and Innovative Financing’, which was hosted by the Ministry of Finance at the Sofitel Dubai Downtown hotel, today.

The conference was held in the presence of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the UAE Minister of Finance; Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs; in addition to a number of ministers and heads of local  federal entities.

The conference was held as part of the Ministry’s participation in ‘UAE Innovation Week’.

Al Tayer said: “This pioneering innovation initiative goes hand-in-hand with the vision of our wise leadership to enhance the innovation approach in order to achieve sustainable development, and its goals to establish the UAE as one of the most innovative countries in the world by 2021.

“The Ministry of Finance is entrusted with the role of managing and supervising the Fund through a comprehensive programme which provides financing solutions to innovators within the UAE, and supports growth and innovation, specifically across the seven sectors outlined in the national innovation strategy. This Fund is considered one of the most important financing tools in the region. It is expected to play a significant role in driving growth and economic development within the UAE, and in strengthening the country’s position on both a regional and global level,” he said

Capital will be allocated to the Fund to create new ways and means of financing innovative projects through commercial banks and financial institutions, in accordance with specific criteria and standards.

The Fund will also provide support to individuals and companies registered in the country, and those who provide exceptional innovative ideas, whether they be techniques, processes, as well as intellectual products or services. Eligible applicants need to have registered their project as intellectual property and the initial stage of the project must already be established. The Fund will provide support to all projects, prioritising those related to the seven sectors outlined in the national innovation strategy (renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space). Applicants requesting funding must provide a business development plan to be eligible for funding.

Specific phases for the development of the Fund have been established. The pilot phase will be launched during the first half of 2016 with the participation of individuals and companies from various sectors. This will be followed by the official launch of the Fund’s operations in the second half of 2016.

The Fund’s management will evaluate all funding requests for further discussion with a group of experts in respective areas, to determine the effectiveness and practicality of each project, and their compliance with the standards set by the Fund in terms of the nature of innovative ideas and the commercial aspects related to transforming these ideas into successful projects. A small fee will be charged for all applications, and the amount will depend on each individual request.

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