startAD, the accelerator and entrepreneurship hub anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi and powered by Tamkeen, has announced that applications for the second edition ofBeyond the Pitch will open today, November 5, 2018. Organized in partnership with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the second edition of the competitive startup program is open to UAE residents between the ages of 18 and 25.
Under the theme of ‘sustainability’, Beyond the Pitch continues to harness the entrepreneurial talent of the UAE’s youth to drive solutions to the critical challenges of climate action, the circular economy, green cities, and sustainable food and agriculture. These topics were selected by startAD alongside its partners GGGI and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in order to encourage local ideas that will have a significant impact on the environment and economy.
Applications can be submitted online until January 15, 2019; an information session will be held at the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre (DTEC) in Dubai on November 25 from 6-8pm. The program is highly selective; only 15 projects will be accepted. Individuals or teams with an existing technology project are encouraged to apply; they must be able to demonstrate a scalable project with the potential for a global impact. Projects that have been a part of previous hackathons, pitch competitions, or other programs will also be considered.
Minister of Climate Change and Environment His Excellency Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi said: “Today’s youth play a vital role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Hence, the UAE has prioritized the engagement and empowerment of youth at the highest levels. Initiatives, such as Beyond the Pitch, support UAE’s efforts and several other initiatives launched to encourage entrepreneurship among youth and attract innovative startups to the region. Youth value independence and autonomy and believe that it is their duty to improve their communities, and eventually, the world. The UAE has also created a number of platforms that give youth an opportunity to voice their dreams and aspirations, as well as motivate them and harness their innovative solutions to global issues.”
Director of startAD Robyn Brazzil said: “With 35 percent of the UAE’s population under the age of 25, this program is a great opportunity for local youth to take innovative and impactful ideas and turn them into viable business models in a short period of time. Beyond the Pitch is true to its name. We sought to fill the gap created by pitch competitions and hackathons, by providing much needed follow on support and guidance.”
GGGI Acting UAE Country Representative Mohammed Angawi said: “Young entrepreneurs have a critical role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement. GGGI is proud to team up with New York University Abu Dhabi’s startAD to work with young entrepreneurs in the UAE on innovative green business solutions that will address local and global sustainability and climate challenges. We hope that this year’s Beyond the Pitch program will stimulate further interest in green entrepreneurship and maintain the UAE’s position as an innovation and green growth leader.”
The 15 successful teams will go through two preliminary boot camps on February 8-9 and February 15-16, 2019, where they will receive instructions on ideation, getting to product market fit, and customer development. Additional workshops will be held throughout the program from March to April with a focus on developing and validating a business model as well as learning how to present to a diverse audience of potential partners, customers, and investors.
The 2019 intake of applicants will receive oversight and support from business leaders and entrepreneurs. GGGI and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment will also support in matching teams with green business experts to help them gain valuable insights into how to create a successful green business.
The 2018 cohort of Beyond the Pitch saw 17 teams from four emirates and 11 universities gain access to 20 mentors. Participating teams included Project Vision, which was awarded $3,000 for its development of an innovative Artificial Intelligence virtual assistance platform for the visually impaired.