Today, as part of Masdar’s Innovation Week activities, Masdar, BP and Masdar Institute launched The Catalyst, the region’s first technology startup accelerator focused on sustainability and clean tech. The Catalyst, which is supported by USD 5 million in funding from BP, will help startups accelerate their business through funding, training and mentorship. Launched on the first day of Innovation Week with a high-level panel session attended by Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar HE Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, The Catalyst promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and the development of a knowledge-based economy in Masdar City and Abu Dhabi, in line with the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy.
Highlighting the unique positioning of The Catalyst, Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, said: “In the nine years since our inception, Masdar has transformed from a bold idea into a commercially-viable renewable energy company. We want to leverage our own experience – as well as our unique infrastructure and assets at Masdar City -- to create a platform for start-ups with similarly bold visions for sustainable technologies and turn their ideas into commercial realities. We are pleased to partner with BP and Masdar Institute to catalyse innovation in line with the call to action by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the UAE leadership.”
The Catalyst will be differentiated from the other start-up accelerators in the region by its unique focus on sustainable technologies and through its highly targeted recruitment process. The Catalyst will support fledgling innovators from the UAE and beyond in the fields of energy, water and clean tech with seed funding, training, mentoring, and work space. It will accept applications from start-ups that are one to five years from commercialisation and that have a potential patentable technology. Successful applicants will receive up to $50,000 funding and up to 6 months of support, training and advice to help grow their business.
“Masdar Institute and its Institute Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (iInnovation) work to enable technology transfer to startups and commercialization of the technologies developed through our research projects. We look forward to lending our expertise and sharing our innovation infrastructure with The Catalyst as it joins us in our shared mission of supporting the development of the UAE’s innovation ecosystem,” said Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost of Masdar Institute.
Mr. Abdulkarim Almazmi, President and General Manager for BP UAE said, “BP is a corporation anchored in technological innovation. Our business relies on the ability of our brightest minds to innovate, so we are proud to support a programme that will develop innovative capacity in the UAE through training, mentorship and access to industry experts. BP is pleased to bring its proven capabilities in technology entrepreneurship to the region and help UAE developing a leading position in technology innovation.”
Interested entrepreneurs may apply to The Catalyst through its online application portal. Over the next few months, a series of hackathons and innovation boot camps will be held to determine the first cohort of participants in the programme. Accepted applicants will partake in a programme which includes education and training, investment pitch preparation, hands-on mentorship and a Demo Day. After the accelerator programme, successful applicants will enjoy post-programme support.
The goal of the accelerator is to turn a start-up idea into a minimal viable product with commercialisation potential. These new businesses will grow into a network of innovators in sustainability that will become the future driving force behind innovation in Abu Dhabi and across the region.
The Catalyst is now accepting applications for Spring 2016 through its online application portal.