In a step towards advancing the innovation and entrepreneurship hub within Abu Dhabi's, the Competitiveness Office of Abu Dhabi (COAD), part of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), and Hub71, have partnered to enhance the emirate’s innovation ecosystem by further developing the regulatory environment for innovative products and services.

This strategic alliance will design and launch the Abu Dhabi Regulatory Sandbox Programme, a collaborative platform that brings together companies in priority clusters such as health tech, mobility, and agritech with regulatory authorities and policymakers. The programme aims to foster a regulatory environment that accommodates emerging technologies and supports regulatory innovation by encouraging innovation, cooperation, and regulatory experimentation among participants.

His Excellency Rashed Abdulkarim Al Blooshi, Undersecretary of ADDED, attended the announcement of the new partnership between COAD and Hub71 to support companies with untested innovations that are close to market entry stage, attract companies to Abu Dhabi, guide companies to appropriate regulators, and provide them with the support needed to grow.

The regulatory programme provides space for innovative local and international companies within the priority clusters to test their innovations in a real environment. Such testing will further help these companies prepare for potential future launches within the emirate.

To further enable innovators and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into services and products, COAD will increase its level of efficiency and quality of service, which includes reducing the time taken to launch innovative solutions, from development stages to licensing. COAD will also implement a coordination programme in cooperation with various regulatory authorities to facilitate the product launch process.

The regulatory framework is an important step in enhancing Abu Dhabi as a leading destination for innovation, supporting investment activities and fostering economic growth. In 2022, COAD launched Abu Dhabi Innovates, a general framework to enhance innovation in the emirate. The framework aimed to encourage and incentivise innovation and innovators; analysing and suggesting pillars of innovation within the ecosystem in line with ADDED’s efforts to provide regulatory and institutional frameworks to support innovation, and research and development (R&D) in vital economic sectors.

Her Excellency Hala Al Ameri, Executive Director of COAD, said: “Our partnership with Hub71 will boost efforts and initiatives serving the Abu Dhabi Regulatory Sandbox Programme, which provides the opportunity for innovative entrepreneurs to develop value-added solutions that will increase Abu Dhabi’s competitiveness. Leveraging Hub71’s global tech expertise will help in streamlining coordination among various stakeholders in the emirate and simplifying the product launch process.

“Within an experimental environment, companies can test their products and services in an organised and controlled manner for a specific period. When the testing is successful, those companies are allowed to introduce their solutions to the market in accordance with the controls enacted by the regulatory authorities.”

The launch of the Abu Dhabi Regulatory Sandbox Programme aims to motivate individuals to transform innovative ideas into tangible services and products, fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within Abu Dhabi. COAD’s Takamul Programme, having evaluated more than 1,100 patent support applications, reflects the commitment to supporting inventors and consolidating a culture of innovation in the UAE.

Ahmad Ali Alwan, CEO of Hub71, said: “A progressive regulatory environment is essential for innovation to thrive. Through this partnership, Hub71 will work closely with COAD to enable startups to validate their solutions and establish product-market-fit. Abu Dhabi promotes founders to conduct business by leveraging the capital’s position as a leading global hub for tech and innovation. We look forward to collaborating with COAD and are confident that this partnership will positively impact the technology and innovation landscape.”

The signing of the partnership agreement represents a significant milestone for the ongoing development of a hub for innovation in Abu Dhabi and providing a supportive ecosystem for businesses to thrive and innovate.