Intelak, the first industry-focused aviation, travel and tourism incubator to be established in the UAE, has boosted the innovation ecosystem in the country by encouraging a number of young entrepreneurs to come together and transform their ideas into reality.
Intelak, whose name in Arabic means ‘to take off’, has helped three cohorts graduate effectively through the programme. Over the three cohorts, a total of 800 teams submitted ideas for consideration out of which 60 teams were selected for participation in an innovation boot camp. 12 teams were selected to go through the 90-day intensive accelerator programme at the end of which the teams made business pitches to investors as well as key stakeholders to the principal and founding partners.
The success of the startups at Intelak is measured by their continuation beyond the program and to date, Intelak has experienced a success rate of about 75%. Dubz has been one of the first success stories that emerged from the Intelak incubator programme. The startup was one of the winners of the first Intelak cohort. The team behind Dubz pitched a practical and technology-enabled service to collect and deliver passenger baggage before or after flights from passengers’ homes or hotels in Dubai. dnata, one of the world’s largest air service providers and part of the Emirates Group, has acquired a majority stake in Dubz.
Another graduate from the first cohort, The Conceptualisers, have worked on making inflight food trays lighter, ergonomic and more easily stowable. The Conceptualisers have had support from an angel investor and have also partnered up with DIAB, a leading developer of composite core material along with their production partners, suppliers and technological aids to progress towards the creation of final pre-production units. The design for the trays have also been patented.
Rent2Mum, a platform that connects families with strollers at the airport and SweepTEQ, a company that detects debris on the runway through autonomous miniature pods, both graduates of the Intelak programme, have received further investment and acceleration from Sheraa, the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre. Storage-i, an IoT (Internet of Things) technology company focusing on digitisation of physical assets using its generic IoT device, also found success through Intelak. Storage-i founder, Nikhil Goel, founded a Plug and Play company to enable multiple sensors to be connected easily to his device and this granted him one of the top four spots in the Intelak Incubator programme in January 2017. Shortly after graduating from the incubator, he presented his MVP (Minimum Viable Product) at the Dubai Futurism competition, which helped him win an AED 100,000 cash prize.
His Highness (H.H.) Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said: “Intelak has induced a ripple effect of stimulating the broader innovation ecosystem in Dubai and the UAE. With Dubz and our other success stories, we are confident that more innovators in the country will be inspired to step forward to participate with their ideas. In keeping with Dubai’s vision to use innovation as one of the core pillars for progress, Intelak aims to offer a nurturing environment to innovators and in the process, redefine the aviation, travel and tourism space by infusing fresh and creative ideas into the industry.”
“The accelerated adoption of disruptive technologies and transformational thinking is fundamental for Dubai to lead the industry in capturing the true value of today’s radically evolving global travel and tourism sector. Integral to this future-proofing effort is the enablement of a deep-rooted culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, in line with the Dubai 10X initiative established by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, facilitated by active cross- ecosystem collaborations for knowledge sharing, idea generation and concept manifestation.
As such, we trust that our continued partnership with Intelak will not only open doors for a vast pool of strong start-up and SME talent to connect with pioneering industry experts, but also actively motivate all those involved in servicing Dubai’s travel sector to collectively embrace new-age trends to truly redefine the visitor experience, making us a pioneer in this exciting digital age,” said HE Helal Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism.
“GE is passionate about supporting startups that make an impact to industry. With the successes of Intelak’s startups already, we are seeing that focusing on entrepreneurship in an industrial sector – in this case aviation – can mobilize hundreds of members of the ecosystem around real-world challenges and solutions. With this kind of support for Intelak, we can expect further innovation and disruption from brilliant young minds in the future, and they may help to define the future of flight,” said Nabil Habayeb, President & CEO, GE Middle East, North Africa & Turkey.
The Intelak Journey
Established in September 2016, the aim of Intelak has been to bring together budding entrepreneurs, ideators and mentors together on a platform and using this platform to build an innovative ecosystem which would redefine the future of aviation, travel and tourism industries not just in the Middle East but globally. The Emirates Group, GE and Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing are principal partners in the Intelak programme working with the official host, Dubai Technology & Entrepreneurship Centre (DTEC).
The programme goes through three major phases. During the first outreach stage, applications are invited from across the UAE. Intelak also reaches out to other incubators and educational institutions in the country to encourage students and other early stage entrepreneurs to participate. The second stage is the week-long innovation boot camp when a longlist of teams are invited to participate in training sessions on value creation, marketing, growth hacking, financial modelling and building an investor pitch deck.
For the final stage, four teams are selected to go through a 90-day accelerator programme and are provided seed funding of AED 50,000 per team. The teams are based out of Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre (DTEC) and are guided by mentors.
Over the last three cohorts, teams have had access to over 120 carefully selected mentors. A total of more than 1800 hours of collective training has been provided to the participants. Each startup that qualifies for the accelerator programme is matched with a number of mentors and coaches who provide them with both the industry and market data, as well as guidance and expertise. Mentors are renowned angel investors, industry experts, thought leaders, coaches and business owners from the startup ecosystem from Dubai and internationally.
The list of mentors for Intelak has included names such as Hisham Al Gurg, CEO, The Private Office of His Highness Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum; Ghada Elkeissi, Director of Software Engineering & Analytics at GE Digital; Rosa Boon, Creative Consult for Mischief Makers and Safaa Khanfar, Programme Manager at the Emirates Innovation Lab. At the conclusion of the programme teams make pitches to business investors.
Intelak Idea Lab
The success of Intelak has also led to the formation of the ‘Intelak Idea Lab’- a three week dedicated programme for Emirati Youth to help them translate their ideas into business concepts. The Idea Lab is hosted in participation with Dubai SME and takes place in Hamdan Innovation Incubator every summer. More than 30 Emirati youth have so far passed through the Idea Lab and 4 teams have also gone through the 90-day Intelak accelerator programme following their journey through Idea Lab. The latest session of the Idea Lab was held in July 2018 with seven teams graduating from the programme.