The number of companies in Masdar City’s freezone increased by 26 per cent in 2020.
Masdar City, the sustainable urban development in the UAE, is set to play a key role in the global green recovery from COVID-19 as it continues to add sustainability-focused innovation and technology companies.
The number of companies in Masdar City’s freezone increased by 26 per cent in 2020, indicating the important role of the City and its offerings to innovation-led companies, including G42 Healthcare, whose laboratories and testing centres were central to the UAE’s pandemic response.
The figures emphasise the essential need for innovation in progressing the green transition through the development and commercialisation of new technologies. Masdar City is Abu Dhabi’s only planned and approved research and development (R&D) cluster and is now home to more than 900 companies, ranging from multinationals and SMEs, to homegrown startups. These companies are developing ground-breaking technological solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, across the key sectors of energy, water, artificial intelligence, health, space, agriculture, and mobility.
“The UAE leadership has made a longstanding commitment to progressive climate action and recognises the integral part that innovation plays in advancing the global green recovery,” said Abdulla Balalaa, Executive Director, Masdar City.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has further underlined the links between public health and climate change. Now more than ever, we see the critical importance of the green recovery. It is the only way forward to drive sustainable development, and facilitating innovation in key sectors is a fundamental aspect of this journey, one that we are helping to lead at Masdar City.
“The UAE also has in place a National Strategy for Advanced Innovation which is focused on devising innovative solutions in the health, transportation, water, environment, and space technology. This vision is at the heart of Masdar and the reason that Masdar City was developed as a ‘greenprint’ of sustainable urban living and a centre for R&D, innovation and technology.
The work being done by companies in Masdar City to develop transformative technologies, is not only preparing for the future, but is creating it, while simultaneously supporting the UAE’s goals of driving sustainable and positive change,” Balalaa concluded.
Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Masdar City has continued to welcome new partners, including high-tech sector drivers, the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), which shapes the R&D strategy in Abu Dhabi, alongside its pillar entities, the Technology Innovation Institute (TII) and ASPIRE, and will continue to welcome regional and global partners in the coming months.
The ATRC joins an already impressive cluster of innovation-driven companies including: Honeywell Innovation Centre, an innovation and knowledge-exchange hub designed to advance digital transformation across the oil, gas, petrochemical and infrastructure sectors; G42 Healthcare, which conducted the first pan-Arab clinical trials for an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine and has established the region’s largest and most advanced Omics Centre of Excellence, which is home to a series of Omics projects; the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) - the first intergovernmental organisation to be located in the Middle East; the UAE Space Agency, which made history earlier this year by sending a space craft into Mars’ Orbit, making the UAE the first Arab nation, and one of just five in the world to achieve this; the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec); and companies such as Siemens, Siemens Energy, Saint-Gobain, and Tabreed, as well as core tenant, Masdar (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company).
Masdar City is also an active proponent of the UAE’s National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, which identifies the growth potential associated with AI, and has set out to establish the country as an incubator for AI innovation. This year, Masdar City welcomed the first students to the world’s first graduate-level, research-based university dedicated to the study of AI, the Mohammed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI).
Masdar City is also home to a growing number of AI specialist companies contributing to a predicted $15.7 trillion boost to the global economy by 2030 and $320 billion to the Middle East economy.
Already established as a leading innovation hub in the region, together with its partners, Masdar City will continue to advance solutions in key sectors, which also support the UAE’s industrial sector in increasing its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) of Dhs300 billion by 2031.
“The UAE has strategies in place that will support the development of industrial small-to-medium entreprises and enable them to play a greater role in the country’s transition to a knowledge-based economy. The City provides a very unique offering that includes education, R&D, technology, and innovation, all within a strategic base through which companies can test new technologies and build their partnerships,” Balalaa added.
The development of startup businesses is also a key focus for Masdar City.