Dubai wants to help change the world, and it’s putting its money where its mouth is…

Sheikh Hamdan and the government of Dubai has just put out a call to the innovators of the world: tell us your ideas for tackling “the most complex opportunities and challenges of the 21st century” and we’ll help them become a reality.

How? Well through The Dubai Future Accelerators programme, which was launched last month by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan, the Crown Prince of Dubai.

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.

“This is about changing the world today,” the organisers explained.

“Innovation is happening at a faster pace than ever before, but the courage to test these ideas is not keeping pace. Real world applications are lagging, and truly transformative ideas often lack the political and financial support they need to be tested and deployed at a large scale.”

So how does it work?

Well companies from around the world that have an idea or prototype that they think can help change the world for the better are to submit their concept here by August 10. The chosen projects will be announced five days later, and then just a month after that the people behind them 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.

Some areas the programme is particularly interested in are A.I. and robotics, genomics, 3D printing, distributed ledgers, biomimicry and biotechnology.

dubai-futureA step-by-step guide 

Why now?

“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.

“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.”



TRANSPORT, ROADS & TRANSPORT AUTHORITY: “Prototype automated mass transport and freight delivery systems that cut congestion by half and reduce transport-related CO2 emissions by 50 per cent across all modes.”

SAFETY, DUBAI POLICE: “Test integrated behavioural, genetic and biological systems for identifying, tracking and sharing information on criminals that are 10x more accurate and 10x more efficient, in particular across borders and between jurisdictions.”

BUILDING, DUBAI MUNICIPALITY: “Test automated, recycled, and nature-inspired building materials and solutions that use 3x less energy and CO2 and are 5x more effective (including robotics, automation, bacteriological, mycology, algae, biomimicry, regenerative systems, sand-based 3D printing materials, and others).”

DIAGNOSIS, DUBAI HEALTH AUTHORITY: “Harness Dubai’s remarkable genetic diversity to enhance diagnosis efficiency and accuracy by a factor of 10 using genomics, analytics, telepresence and personalised medicine.”

EDUCATION, KNOWLEDGE AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: “Test 21st century assessment systems and personalized learning solutions that work across curriculums to offer 5x greater flexibility, 2x lower cost, and 10x better learning outcomes with an emphasis on Arabic language education, STEM, coding, and other disciplines.”

SERVICE INDUSTRIES, DUBAI HOLDING: “Deploy digital solutions across hospitality, real estate and telecommunications industries that reduce paperwork by a factor of 10, increase transaction speeds by a factor of 20, and increase customer satisfaction by an order of magnitude Blockchain, digital personalisation, etc.”

ENERGY, DEWA: “Reduce water and energy consumption by 10x and increase production and distribution efficiencies through the use of renewable, intelligent, automated, biological or other means.”


“The future needs champions: smart, powerful, and motivated partners with the knowledge to appreciate your ideas, the courage to make them real, and the budget to develop them at scale. No one does this better than Dubai.”

Game on people, we can’t wait to see what comes out of this!

– Read more about the initiative here. (To apply click the explore tab next to the relevant challenge and scroll down). 

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