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Participants pitch AI startup ideas after success of MBZUAI Entrepreneurship Programme

The inaugural Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) Entrepreneurship Courses concluded with 12 AI-based startup business plans presented at an on-campus event in Masdar City.

Twenty-two students gained the entrepreneurial skills, tools, and networks needed to commercialise their AI solutions in the UAE, and three startups were fast-tracked for financial grants from MBZUAI.

Jointly launched by MBZUAI’s Incubation and Entrepreneurship Centre (MIEC) and startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based startup accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, the programme aims to boost the AI startup ecosystem in Abu Dhabi.

The top three AI-assisted technologies and applications are Audiomatic, which provides automatic and emotionally intelligent audio production for video content, including customised scores, sound effects, and narrations; Limb, an application providing accessible physiotherapy information such as exercise correction and pain management features; and Momzo, a complete AI assistant for women’s maternity to motherhood powered by generative AI.

“These are the first AI-focused entrepreneurship courses at the university and in the UAE and come on the eve of an expected AI startup boom led by generative AI,” MBZUAI’s Vice President of Public Affairs and Alumni Relations Sultan Al Hajji said.

He added, “The entrepreneurship courses actively encourage students to take advantage of the favourable entrepreneurial environment in Abu Dhabi and ignite the potential to transform their research and engineering know-how into a business. The startup pitches highlight specific-industry and application-use cases and have the potential to make a significant impact on society with their bold, sophisticated, and innovative concepts.”

Managing Director of startAD Ramesh Jagannathan said, “The MBZUAI IEC programme immersed AI innovators in the exciting world of innovation and entrepreneurship, where they learned to apply business literacy heuristics to their ideas. According to an Accenture Report, AI will add $182 billion in annual gross value to the UAE’s economy by 2035. These startup projects demonstrate high potential and are poised to strengthen the UAE’s knowledge economy.”

The 22 graduates represent more than ten nationalities, with 41% being women. All participants graduated from the intensive five-week entrepreneurship courses, which included eight workshops and three community engagement events covering topics such as idea generation, market discovery, prototyping, and pitching.

The 12 startup business plans covered a variety of verticals, including AI safety, AI for health, AI for social good, and more.

The top three pitches were named by a panel of expert judges, including Jean-Luc Scherer, business incubation expert and advisor at Sandooq Al Watan; Mariam Al Badr, director of outreach at Khalifa Fund; Dr. Ramzi Ben Ouaghrem, director of research development and engagement at MBZUAI; Michael Huang, acting director of strategy and IEQA at MBZUAI; and Selim Tira, investment representative at Shorooq Partners.

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