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The future really is coming to Dubai, and it’s happening now

Thirty of the globe’s most innovative companies are about to fly into Dubai to spend three months making the “fourth industrial revolution” happen…

Dubai is not sitting back and letting the future happen around it, oh no, and the city is putting its money where it’s mouth is too.

How? Well remember how we told you about The Dubai Future Accelerators programme, which was launched in June by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan, the Crown Prince of Dubai.

Well, there were 2,274 applicants from 73 countries and from all 7 continents (including Antarctica?!) and now 30 companies and projects have been picked. These 30 groups will now, with the government of Dubai’s support, start incubating their forward-thinking ideas over a period of 12 weeks.

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Sheikh Mohammed at the pop up Museum of the Future that ran side-by-side with the World Government Summit in Dubai this year.

Why? Well because as the Dubai Future Foundation points out we are in the midst of “a fourth industrial revolution, which will create a market worth billions of dollars and revolutionise the business models that we know today”.

WHAT’S THE DEAL?

Basically, Dubai is going to pay people to help develop their concepts, and they want nothing in return. Plus, Dubai’s commitment is strong, with H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai just announcing that the Dubai government is committing Dhs1 billion to the project.

“Our goal is to transform the city of Dubai into a global test bed for leading ideas and technologies,” said Sheikh Hamdan.

“Through this initiative, the UAE is seeking to redefine the international role of business accelerators,” said H.E. Mohammed Al Gergawi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Dubai Future Foundation. “They will provide a global platform to develop new and innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges facing society.”

SO WHO WAS CHOSEN?

The finalists come from many sectors, including health, education, energy and water, transport, infrastructure, security and safety, and technology.

The most prominent names on the list are…

Hyperloop One, who are developing a transportation system that could take you from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in a matter of minutes (you can read all about them here).

– Next Future Transportation, a company looking at mass-transit solutions and self-driving vehicles. They will develop a smart transportation system consisting of electrical units able to accommodate up to six passengers, operate independently, and communicate with each other.

– Concensys, who are the world’s largest software provider for app developers and Blockchain companies (and are likely to be looking into the future of digital financial transactions). These applications will help maintain records and data, allowing for a secure exchange of financial assets without the need for a middle man.

– Construction Robotics – these guys specialise in construction solutions that increase productivity five-fold (meaning that construction site you live next to could be a months-long rather than year-long job in the future).

– Honeywell, a Fortune 100 company working on developing advanced digital solutions for the healthcare sector.

“Following an in-depth study – undertaken with our partners and a group of leading experts – to test the feasibility and effectiveness of each entry’s proposed solutions for the challenges facing the relevant key sectors, we can confidently say that we have selected the most innovative and promising applicants,” explained H.E Saif Al Aleeli, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation.

WHAT NEXT?

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Sheikh Mohammed at a meeting for the Dubai Future Foundation

The thirty chosen groups will be flown to Dubai to work with the emirate’s “most ambitious public sector champions” over a period of 12 weeks.

They will be given dedicated creative workspaces in the Future Accelerator’s newly-opened facility in Emirates Towers, with full access to a state-of-the-art prototyping lab.

“Those lucky enough to be selected will get to experience firsthand how readily we can move mountains together, how quickly we create change, and how anything is possible. Let it start here in Dubai, but let it touch the entire world,” explained H.E Mohammed Al Gergawi, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Future Foundation.

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“When it comes to innovation, there is a flood of good ideas but not enough champions with courage and vision to test them out,” he added.

“Our goals for this program are simple: drive rapid, world-class innovation results in the real world, test and scale cutting edge technologies, and establish long-term relationships with the key leaders of the future,” explained the organisers.

“We take no equity from participating companies, and all intellectual property you develop here (or have developed previously) remains yours and yours alone. We only ask only that we be invited to invest alongside other partners if fundraising is part of the eventual outcome of your participation in the program. Our goal is to help you take your product or service prototype out into the real world, with real partners and real impact.”

The Dubai Future Foundation CEO, Saif Al Aleeli, has said this isn’t just about “marketing plans and search engine optimisation”. But rather “this is about connecting your ideas and innovations with the people who have the power to make them real. This is about creating and testing real proof of concepts and prototypes at the city-wide scale.”

SHEIKH MOHAMMED’S OVERALL PLAN

In a letter on Dubai’s future that went viral on LinkedIn earlier this year, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, pointed out that his aim is to shape a path for the UAE “that frees future generations from dependence on the ever-fluctuating oil market.”

He also had a message for “others in our region that change can happen by our hands only”, adding “our region does not need a super-strong external power to stop its decline; we need the power from within that can overcome the hatred and intolerance that has blighted life in many neighboring countries.

In it he also noted that Dhs300 billion has been invested to diversify the economy (and build a sustainable economic model).

NOW READ: Driverless cars & more on what Dubai will look like in 2030

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