Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) have signed an agreement to jointly pioneer AI-driven solutions aimed at expediting the growth of entrepreneurs and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

ADDED, MBZUAI and Wio Bank PJSC, the region’s first platform bank, will partner to create a virtual assistant (Chatbot) to help streamline SMEs access to Abu Dhabi’s diverse resources and programmes. The chatbot will connect SMEs with stakeholders at all stages of the business journey, from ideation to growth, expansion and long-term success.

The innovative AI-powered chatbot will be curated to assist SMEs in navigating the complexities of the business world, by providing valuable insights, guidance and references to resources to help SMEs streamline operations, identify opportunities and make informed business decisions to grow and thrive in Abu Dhabi.

Under the supervision of MBZUAI, a competition will be held where three student teams selected from Abu Dhabi universities will be invited to work with the venture lab operator to develop the AI Chatbot solution. The winning team’s solution will be developed further and adopted by ADDED. 

ADDED, MBZUAI, Wio Bank and Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) will also explore opportunities to further develop the SME landscape to ensure the vital sector, which accounts for 98% of businesses, employs 46% of workforce, and contributes 42.8% of non-oil GDP in Abu Dhabi, plays a greater role in the emirate’s transition to a knowledge based, innovation driven, smart and sustainable economy.

Mouza Obaid Al Nasri, Executive Director of SMEs Sector at ADDED, said: "We are pleased to partner with MBZUAI, Wio Bank, and ADCCI to further enhance the innovation ecosystem and support SMEs to reach their full potential. This collaboration exemplifies ADDED's steadfast commitment to fostering young talent, driving innovation and harnessing cutting-edge technology. The chatbot will usher in a new era for SMEs by integrating the power of artificial intelligence into the sector and enable entrepreneurs to benefit from ample opportunities in Abu Dhabi’s robust and diversified economy."

"SMEs play a vital role in job creation, economic diversification and enhancing Abu Dhabi’s status as preferred destination for talent, entrepreneurs and investments. We believe the continuous development of this sector is paramount to the emirate’s strategic objectives."

Sultan Al Hajji, Vice President of Public Affairs and Alumni Relations at MBZUAI, said: "MBZUAI is working closely with industry and government partners to support Abu Dhabi’s ambition to become a hub for AI-based startups. We are delighted to be a knowledge partner to ADDED and look forward to supporting the development of the SME ecosystem through the application of world-class research and AI-based solutions."

Jamal Al Awadhi, Chief Operating and Experience Officer from Wio Bank PJSC, said: "At Wio Bank, our core objective is to revolutionise SME banking in the region. Our collaboration with ADDED and MBZUAI represents a significant step in harnessing the vast potential of artificial intelligence. Through our partnerships, we are committed to creating banking solutions to help SMEs thrive in an ever-changing business landscape."

Wio Bank brings together the capabilities of digital banking applications, embedded finance and banking-as-a-service. Wio Bank's first proposition, Wio Business, provides a comprehensive suite of highly targeted and tailored digital-first solutions aimed at entrepreneurs and start-up in the UAE. The platform was set up with the core mission of contributing to the future readiness of the SME’s in the UAE.

ADDED has been launching and championing initiatives aiming to support SMEs in their growth journey, equipping them with relevant skills through diverse programmes to enhance their capabilities, enable them to compete effectively in the market and scale up their businesses.