Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: The Fikra Labs Acceleration Programme, a new concept to drive innovation and foster entrepreneurship in the Abu Dhabi travel and tourism sector, concluded its four-week acceleration programme yesterday (May 1) with the announcement of the four winning MENA start-ups.
The winning start-ups that were awarded the coveted investment opportunity included Tapklik Technologies mentored by DCT Abu Dhabi, ViaFone Technologies mentored by ADNEC, Arabot mentored by Etihad Aviation Group and Scene mentored by Miral.
Since its launch in February, Fikra Labs, developed by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, Miral, Etihad Aviation Group and Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, supported by Abu Dhabi Global Market, in collaboration with Wamda, has become a centre of innovation for partners and participants. The programme concluded with a series of sessions in which the finalists worked with the Wamda team and industry experts to finalise their prototype, pitches and presentation decks. They then pitched their ideas to the jury and participated in a Q&A session before the four winners were announced.
HE Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and Chairwoman of Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company commented: “We witnessed a huge leap during the course of the programme in the level of maturity each startup has presented. ADNEC is thrilled to be part of a programme that embraces innovation and values creativity. This initiative provides us with an opportunity to support entrepreneurs achieve financial and business sustainability and allows the winners to implement their creative ideas and projects, which ultimately contribute to changing business practices in the tourism sector in general and business tourism.”
Commenting on the success of the programme, HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “As part of our mandate to promote Abu Dhabi as a destination of distinction, we began this year with the launch of a new concept to nurture the best talent who will help further transform Abu Dhabi into the leading global hub for travel and tourism. We are delighted to have found our four winning start-ups who were able to rise up to the challenges and shine bright as beacons of innovation. We look forward to working with them in the coming months.”
In his role as CEO of Miral, Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi said: “We are extremely proud to be one of the partners of the Fikra Labs project. We believe that an innovation-driven culture is essential to help us achieve our vision of making Yas Island one of the top tourist destinations in the world. We look forward to working with the winners in the next few months, as they transform their great innovative and creative ideas into reality, and are hopeful that one of these projects will come to life on Yas Island.”
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “It's a pleasure for Etihad Aviation Group to be a founding member of Fikra Labs, and we are excited to join our partners today for the final stage of this exciting initiative. Etihad has had the additional honour of hosting the 12 shortlisted start-ups at our Innovation Centre for the last month as they refined their business models and propositions. We have experienced first-hand their enthusiasm, dedication and talent. We believe that engaging with the start-up community through platforms such as Fikra Labs is an important part of building a start-up eco-system in the UAE. This community engagement enables knowledge sharing and collaboration, which are key success factors for any start-up. Just as importantly, Fikra Labs creates opportunities for new companies to disrupt the wider travel and tourism sector, and by extension, support the development of the UAE's economy.”