Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), the overarching entity mandated to shape Abu Dhabi’s R & D strategy and its advanced technology ecosystem and drive the UAE’s strategic research priorities, today announced that it has awarded AED40 million in research funding to 53 successful R & D projects across eight key sectors in 2021.

Managed by ASPIRE, ATRC’s technology programme management pillar - through its two programmes - ASPIRE Award for Research Excellence (AARE) and ASPIRE Young Investigator Award (AYIA) – the grant funding is being allocated to entities in the Aerospace, Education and Social Sciences, Energy, Environment, Food and Agriculture, Health, ICT and Manufacturing sectors.

Speaking on the funding, His Excellency Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of ATRC, said: “As a core foundational priority for the Council, we are delighted to play our part in collaboration with the country’s higher education institutions, in incubating research projects that will contribute to the greater good and encourage sustainable progress in Abu Dhabi, the UAE and beyond. ATRC congratulates the winners and commends all the participants for the exceptionally high standard of entries to the ASPIRE programmes this year.”

Dr. Arthur Morrish, CEO of ASPIRE, said: “ASPIRE will manage the distribution of the grants to our two key research-enabling programmes that aim to foster a healthy spirit of competition and bring to the forefront the most worthwhile and cutting-edge projects. Such projects can now transition seamlessly from concept to completion and lab to market without interruption to ensure transformative global impact.”

The grant awardees were picked from 370 proposals across the two programmes. AARE and AYIA are ongoing initiatives run by ASPIRE to boost synergies with research communities, accelerate the growth of the Abu Dhabi research and development ecosystem and position the emirate as an innovation hub.

An international pool of peer reviewers from leading research institutions around the world whittled down the sizeable number of initial proposals based on criteria such as research quality and originality, feasibility of the proposal, relevance to strategic sectors in Abu Dhabi, qualifications of applicants, potential impact on the sector and human capital development. In addition, due weightage was accorded to entries that demonstrated collaboration with industry, as well as inter-institutional and STEM education engagement.

The AARE grant was open to all full-time faculty in Higher Education Institutes geographically located within the emirate of Abu Dhabi and is growing from strength to strength.

Meanwhile, the AYIA programme funding totalling AED1 million is allocated to six outstanding research proposals in targeted thematic areas. The competitive funding programme was open to young researchers in Abu Dhabi who are within six years of obtaining their terminal degree (PhD or equivalent).

Research funded by the two programmes is anticipated to advance scientific and technological development within Abu Dhabi, as well as foster meaningful partnerships between scientists in Abu Dhabi and leading academic and industrial stakeholders at a national and global level.

Following its launch in November 2020, ASPIRE, ATRC’s technology programme management pillar, continues to nurture the research ecosystem through its corporate R & D programmes and frames grand competitions that contribute to advancing innovation and solving Abu Dhabi’s unique challenges as well as supporting the development of new technologies. ASPIRE is a key partner of “XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion” Competition, funded by Ghadan 21, Abu Dhabi's accelerator programme. The US$15 million competition aims to find alternative protein solutions to end global hunger and strengthen food security. More recently, ASPIRE has announced that it will host the upcoming edition of the US$3 million MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge that aims to find real-time solutions to maritime safety and security challenges.