DUBAI, 16th August, 2016 (WAM) – The Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) programme received an unprecedented number of submissions for the first cycle of its programme, which commences on 12th September, 2016, a UAE official has said.

Over 2,200 companies from 73 countries, in all seven continents, applied to be a part of the first cycle of the programme, including one submission from scientists in Antarctica.

Applications poured in from around the world in a space of less than a month, marking the Future Accelerators as one of the fastest growing programmes in the world. With less than 35 spots, the application to acceptance ratio will be nearly 1 percent. This makes it the highest and fastest submission rates of any programme globally.

Saif Al Aleeli , CEO of Dubai Future Foundation pointed out that Dubai Future Accelerators has been receiving positive feedback and interaction since its inception, from innovators and SMEs, as well as from the most influential accelerator communities and venture capitalists in Europe, East Asia, and the United States (US).

He added that the programme further positions the UAE and Dubai’s major global role in creating markets for the technology of the 21st century, and transforming the next generation of technology and inventions into real solutions that help people’s lives.

Al Aleeli explained that the global excitement around the programme affirms the soundness of the strategic approach taken by UAE in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship as key drivers of the future economy. He stressed that the initiative forms a shortcut to the knowledge-based economy by attracting the best minds and innovations from around the world, which will enhance the UAE’s competitiveness and leadership in strategic sectors.

As per testaments from a number of entrepreneurship websites, start-ups and government entities, the initiative forms a compass that directs the entrepreneurship sector’s involvement in the government strategy to build the future, underlining the importance of supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups.

The extraordinary number of participations and the quality of projects reflects the importance of the initiative and its fundamental role in inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and SMEs all over the world. It is designed to help them develop innovative projects and advanced technologies, and address the challenges of achieving sustainable development for future generations.

The initiative has not only caught the attention of companies and entrepreneurs, but also of top-tier incubators, accelerators, and venture capitals in the world, such as Silicon Valley’s 1776 and Y Combinator, which incubated multi-billion-dollar companies when they were just start-ups, in addition to Europe’s largest accelerator, Techstars.

The US topped the list of 73 participating countries with regards to the number of individual participants, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Singapore, and Australia – apart from the large number of local start-ups.

The applications were distributed along the major sectors covered by the initiative, such as health, education, infrastructure, transport, energy, water, safety and security, and advanced technology.

The education sector, which is supervised by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, made up 24 percent of the applications, while the advanced technology sector, supervised by Dubai Holding constituted 19 percent.

The energy and water sector, meanwhile, which is under Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s (DEWA) supervision got 15 percent of the applicants, and 17 percent went to the health sector, supervised by Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

The transportation and infrastructure sectors, supervised by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Dubai Municipality, respectively, attracted equal shares of 13 percent, while the safety and security sector, supervised by Dubai Police accounted for 5 percent of total applications.

An expert committee made up of specialists from the key sectors will evaluate the projects and their potential to deliver real solutions for the challenges facing us in the 21st century. The initiative announced these “21st century challenges” that face the cities of the future. The founding members of the initiative will participate in judging panels to shortlist five start-ups from each sector to take part in the first round of the programme. The founding members are: Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Dubai Municipality, Dubai police, and Dubai Holding.

Applications received by the programme concentrated on modern technologies, such as the use of bio-materials in 3D printing, as well as the use of nanotechnology, wireless electrical networks, and the production of electrical energy from floor tiles in a bid to reduce water energy consumption.

Applications in the advanced tech sector revolved around the use of digital solutions to cut down on paper consumption, speed up transactions, and increase customer satisfaction by decentralising databases through Blockchain technology.

In the education sector, meanwhile, applications concentrated on developing curricula that focus on 21st century skills, as well as on enabling self-education through simulation programmes in sciences, engineering, technology, and mathematics, among others.

In the safety and security sector, applications focussed on testing an integrated behavioural system (genetic and biological) to identify, track and share information regarding suspects more accurately and efficiently, in order to better predict and prevent crime by using algorithms.

Applications in the transportation sector revolved around the use of smart sensors to reduce pollution. In addition to that, some projects explored the Hyperloop technology’s potential to build a transportation system capable of reducing traffic congestion as well as emissions of carbon dioxide.