ABU DHABI, The Authority of Social Contribution, Ma'an, announced today the ten winning teams in the first cycle of the Ma'an Social Incubator programME.

Ma'an is part of the 'Ghadan 21' accelerated development programme designed to spur diversity and growth in Abu Dhabi's economy to make it one of the best places in the world to do business, invest, live, work and visit.

The winning projects include a mobile app that helps convert text to sign language and another that helps people with visual impairments to navigate their surroundings through sensors and visual recognition. Among the winners of this year's edition, six teams were local, while four teams were international.

The event this morning announcing the ten winning projects was attended by Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohamed Al Hamed, Chairman of Department of Health; Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development; Abdullah Abdulali Al Humaidan, Secretary-General of Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination; Hamad Al Dhaheri, Director-General of the Social Support Authority; and Salama Al Amimi, Director-General of Ma'an.

The Ma'an Social Incubator programme is the first of its kind in the region, with each of the ten teams eligible to receive funding up to AED200,000 released at every successful milestone the participant reaches, as well as support for living and housing expenses for non-residents of Abu Dhabi.

The programme aims to support and develop innovative social concepts and start-up projects so they may become social institutions or civil facilities with an active role in helping people of determination in facing challenges in their communities, offering them solutions that improve their quality of life and achieve their ambitions.

It also provides the necessary and specialised support needed for these projects to be sustainable, offering the guidance and tools needed for growth, including financial and moral support, as well as office space, business expertise and access to possible investors.

Since launching the programme in May earlier this year, 130 ventures applied for the Ma'an Social Incubator programme from as far afield as Brazil, Denmark, France, Nigeria and India.

Later in August, a shortlist of 25 nominated teams were invited to pitch their solutions before a panel who came together to decide on the final ten winning teams.A Among the winning teams are, 'Accessible Ad', a platform for information, expertise, training and support to ensure effective accessibility for People of Determination in Abu Dhabi.

The Butterfly Foundation, an advocacy agency to bring support and empowerment in the hands of persons with disabilities in the emirate were also among the ten finalists, including 'The Camp', a inclusion-safe, seasonal, mobile sleepover camp for Children of Determination in the UAE. Other top ten finalists include: 'I Hear You', 'Inclusive', 'Key2Enable', 'Martha Edu', 'Ioptyc by Nexart', 'RAB3I' and 'Heroes of Hope'.

The teams will have the opportunity to test their social start-up ideas and gain an in-depth understanding of the market, in addition to attending a series of plenary workshops and receiving mentor advice that will help them develop their idea into a product or service, beginning in September and continuing for 16 weeks.

Commenting on the annoucnement, Al Ameemi said, "We are absolutely delighted with the incredibly innovative ten solutions that have been awarded a place in the Ma'an Social Incubator programme, and are now fully focused on helping the entrepreneurs to make their dream become a reality."

"These social start-ups will contribute towards establishing sustainable social solutions for people of determination and raising their standard of living in Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general, with an ambition for global impact in the future. This is a hugely important phase in our first incubator programme, and we are very much looking forward to working with the committed and passionate people leading each of the start-ups, making their concepts and projects a reality," she added.

The programme offers unique and valuable networking opportunities for the teams to build relationships with individuals outside of the program, including investors, third sector leaders, industry figures, and decision makers in specialised fields regionally and internationally. Ma'an will also host 'demo days' to present the concepts of the ten winning team organised for review and evaluation, as well as to leverage funding from investors.

Source: Emirates News Agency