Thursday 21, January 2016

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Promising technology startups, focused on technologies for sustainability, today had the chance to present their innovations at the first “Pitch Sprint” held as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. The invitation only, half-day, technology showcase was hosted by The Catalyst, the region’s first technology startup accelerator focused on sustainability and clean technologies, which was launched in November during UAE Innovation Week. The Catalyst is a partnership between Masdar, BP and Masdar Institute.
The Catalyst helps startups speed up their development through funding, training and mentorship. Approximately 10 startups from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – including entrepreneurs from Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt and the UAE – participated in the pitch and mentorship session. Ideas presented represented a wide spectrum of innovations, including apps that support drones that can detect wildfires, an interactive platform that educates consumers on energy savings and regulations, and energy management systems designed for mosques.
Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar said the aim of the showcase was to nurture The Catalyst’s startup pipeline. “Entrepreneurs will drive the next wave of clean tech and sustainability innovation. At Masdar, we want to help transform bold ideas into commercial realities. The Catalyst provides the ideal platform to spur new thinking on sustainability challenges, not just in the UAE but across the world,” he stated.
During the Technology Startup Showcase, participants had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to, and get feedback from, a panel of experts comprising Dr. Issam Dairanieh, Managing Director of BP Ventures, Mohamed Hamdy, Director of The Catalyst, and Dr. Steve Griffiths, Vice President of Research at the Masdar Institute. The best ideas will be shortlisted for potential funding by The Catalyst. They also participated in a mentorship roundtable focused on funding and scaling their ideas.
Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost of Masdar Institute, said support for startups is critical to the development of the UAE’s innovation ecosystem. “Innovation is the lifeblood of the economy. The Catalyst plays an important role in enabling sustainability innovators, including those from Masdar Institute, to take their ideas from concept to reality.”
Launched in November, The Catalyst differentiates itself from other startup accelerators in the region through its unique focus on sustainable technologies and through its highly targeted recruitment process. It supports fledgling innovators with seed funding, training, mentorship and work space. Successful applicants are expected to receive up to US$50,000 funding and six months of support, training and advice to grow their businesses.
Abdulkarim Almazmi, President and General Manager for BP UAE said technological innovation is at the core of the energy giant’s operations. “Our business relies on our ability to innovate. That’s why we believe it is important to support startups through initiatives such as The Catalyst, which will create a network of innovators in sustainability that will be the future driving force behind innovation and the development of the knowledge economy in the UAE and beyond.”
The Catalyst accepts applications from startups that are one to five years from commercialisation and focused on sustainable technology within the energy sector.. Interested entrepreneurs can apply to The Catalyst through its online application portal Accepted applicants will take part in a programme which includes funding, office space, training, mentorship and access to a world class network of industry experts and investors..