Monday 1, February 2016

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Masdar City’s Free Zone has facilitated the establishment at Masdar City of the Nordic Innovation Hub, a business incubator designed to bring Nordic clean technologies and solutions to the UAE.
Nordic Innovation Hub’s purpose is to create a business incubating platform for all Nordic companies considering business in the UAE, as well as those already operating within the country.
The Hub is a result of a decision by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the body for intergovernmental cooperation between Nordic countries and collaboration with Masdar Free Zone (MFZ) to initiate a soft-landing solution for Nordic companies keen on operating in the global sphere with a particular interest in expanding in the Middle East. Nordic Innovation Hub is financially supported by Nordic Innovation – an organisation promoting cross-border trade and innovation – working under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
The launch event which took place at Jim’s Kitchen Table at Masdar City – hosting 30 small and large Nordic as well as UAE companies including ABB and Aqualyng – was attended by three Nordic Ambassadors, HE Mrs Riitta Swan, Ambassador of Finland, HE Mr Jan Thesleff, Ambassador of Sweden, and HE Mr Jens Eikaas, Ambassador of Norway. Representatives from Innovation Norway, Finnpro and Business Sweden – the Trade Councils of Norway and Finland – were also present and keen to collaborate for the success of Nordic business expansion in the region.
Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, said the presence of, and support expressed by, the three ambassadors reflected the importance of the Nordic Innovation Hub’s launch.
“At Masdar City we are pioneering a greenprint for existing and future cities to sustainably accommodate rapid urbanisation by deploying innovative and sustainable clean technology solutions. We believe that knowledge sharing, global collaboration and the adoption of the most suitable applications for situations that require its own specific solutions are three vital components for reaching our goal. The newly-established Hub will contribute to the three requirements, while also supporting economic growth,” he said.
Dr Belhoul mentioned Masdar’s role in establishing the Nordic Innovation Hub at MFZ, referencing it as further demonstration of the company’s leading part in support of innovation initiatives in Abu Dhabi in particular, and the UAE in general.
Mohammed Al Fardan, the Head of MFZ, said: “Masdar Free Zone is an integral part of Masdar City, and also the launchpad for new and innovative ideas and collaborative partnerships in renewable energy and clean technology. We believe that collaboration is key to driving sustainable economic growth, employment, innovation and prosperity.”
According to Al Fardan: “Masdar City’s appeal as a Free Zone has attracted around 350 companies to date, and we continue to build this community of tech companies in an ideal, strategic location that offers not only appealing commercial benefits, but also an unparalleled opportunity to take advantage of access to innovation, research and knowledge via the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.”
Green Business Norway, the first user of the Hub, also introduced its collaboration with Nordic Innovation in implementing its Business Intelligence Programme for the UAE at the launch of the Nordic Innovation Hub.
Thor Sverre Minnesjord, CEO of Green Business Norway, said the programme aimed to proactively identify market opportunities in the UAE and wider Gulf region, and engage Nordic companies within the cleantech industries in providing solutions tailor made for the local market. “The programme for the Gulf region already holds great promise, and similar programmes have had major success in China and Poland,” he added.
Maritsa Kissamitaki, General Manager of the Nordic Innovation Hub, said that the Hub would accommodate ten Nordic companies in the clean technology industry on a first-come-first-served basis during the launch phase. She explained that the Hub provided a working space by renting out a flexi desk at a highly subsidised rate in its office space in Masdar City’s Incubator Building which was managed by specialists in the clean technology industry.
“More importantly, companies incubated at Nordic Innovation Hub receive support in finding their way around the market and business development services. Our work now is to continue strengthening the Nordic network and foster cooperation with the aim of minimising risk for companies’ internationalisation effort. Three companies have signed up already to be part of Nordic Innovation Hub.
“One of Nordic Innovation Hub’s next activities is to establish a blog as it aims to reach out and maintain communication with companies internationally and form an online ‘hub’ to exchange ideas and news on the topics of innovation and sustainability. A guide on doing business in the UAE is also soon to be produced,” Kissamitaki added.