ABU DHABI, Registration for Fikra Labs, an acceleration programme aimed at driving innovation and fostering entrepreneurship in the Abu Dhabi travel and tourism sector, has officially closed and the selected start-ups are now embarking on a four-week incubation programme.

Launched in early February as part of the UAE Innovation Month, the programme was led by four of Abu Dhabi's top organisations the Department of Culture and Tourism � Abu Dhabi, Miral, Etihad Aviation Group and Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company supported by the Abu Dhabi Global Market and in collaboration with Wamda.

During the one-month registration period that ended in March, hundreds of MENA start-ups registered their participation in the Fikra Labs programme. This was then followed by a screening process before the selected start-ups moved forward to receive unparalleled mentorship opportunities and the chance to win a potential monetary investment, as well as an opportunity to structure their business in the capital's international financial centre, Abu Dhabi Global Market.

With technology continuously shaping the way travellers interact with destinations, the shortlisted applicants were tasked with the important mission of harnessing the power of technology to pitch creative solutions that tackle the different partners' business challenges.

Each partner will select one winner to work with directly after the programme is over. The ultimate reward for each winning start-up is a potential US$100,000 investment by the relevant partner, as well as the unique opportunity to work directly with one of Abu Dhabi's leading organisations and become an integral part of the emirate's travel and tourism landscape.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism � Abu Dhabi, said, "On behalf of all the partners involved in this programme, we look forward to working with creative minds who will drive innovation and further elevate Abu Dhabi's position as the leading global hub for travel and tourism."

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said, "Etihad is honoured to be joining forces with major government and private sector partners on the Fikra Labs initiative. It is gratifying for us all to see so much focus placed on the support and development of our local talent, on entrepreneurship and on nurturing the disruptive potential available in this creative pool, building a more holistic value chain representing the travel and tourism sector across the emirate."

All the applications received were reviewed by a screening committee composed of the Department of Culture and Tourism � Abu Dhabi, Miral, Etihad Aviation Group, ADNEC and Wamda, and scored according to pre-established judging criteria and scoring metrics.

Source: Emirates News Agency