While entrepreneurs in emerging ecosystems like the MENA need all the support they can get for growing their business, there is no denying that those working on scaling a hardware startup do need special assistance. Recognizing the clichéd but true saying that "hardware is hard," New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD’s) entrepreneurship platform startAD recently organized a one-of-its-kind support program for UAE's hardware startups with the support of IBM, GE and Crescent Enterprises.
Aiming to bridge the gap between emerging product startups and industry stakeholders, startAD’s Hardware Venture Launchpad held its Demo Day at NYU Abu Dhabi on December 13, 2017. Over 20 teams from emerging hardware companies participated in the program, and showcased their solutions to investors and others from the UAE startup community, and at the end of the program, three teams emerged as winners, winning a prototyping grant that help them further develop their products.
“Unlike software startups, which need little to no upfront capital investment, hardware startups need significant infusion of resources, and a strong business model that has the manufacturing details ironed out before seeing the light of day,” Ramesh Jagannathan, managing director of startAD and vice provost for innovation and entrepreneurship at NYU Abu Dhabi, noted in a statement. “It is a challenging task, but startAD is committed to helping to make Abu Dhabi the global epicenter for hardware innovation,” he said.
The three winning UAE teams that received the prototyping grant includes Maia Systems, Team Stealthy, and SMADO. While big data solution Maia Systems (led by CEO Saeed Alnofeli) was recognized for its technology that collects speed, location, overall exertion and performance data of racing camels, Team Stealthy’s medtech wearable device (devised by CEO Nadiya-Keya Siddique and team) was rewarded for its monitoring capabilities that help enhance wellbeing of women pre and post pregnancy. SMADO, a smart automation lock device, spearheaded by CEO Midhun Sankar and team, enables users to control doors via Bluetooth.
In addition to these three winning concepts, startAD also rewarded team Project Realise (a team that’s working on recycling thermoplastics into 3D printer filaments) a trip to China to work with startAD partner labs and gain exposure for their cutting-edge product. The three winning teams (along with Project Realise) were also provided IBM cloud credits of up to US$120,000, and they get an opportunity to be considered for mentoring and seed funding by startAD.