10 Years of Homegrown Innovation

Anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi and powered by Tamkeen is startAD, an Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator steering seed-stage technology startups to launch, develop, and scale their ventures. A core focus for startAD has been advancing homegrown tech innovations developed by UAE Nationals through its Research Commercialization Summer Incubator program, and the Ibtikari incubation program, a strategic partnership between startAD and the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development. 

Since its inception, startAD’s participating startups have raised USD 50 million in investment, secured over 50 projects with corporations, and created more than 250 jobs globally. — Read the full story


Founded by members of NYUAD's Amber Lab, MagCrete tackles the problem of Co2 emissions in the cement industry head-on through designing a block of concrete that absorbs, and doesn’t produce, carbon dioxide during the manufacturing process. The team are looking to expand on the wider GCC construction industry with this constructive innovation.

Plexo Gaming

Industry: Gaming Technology

Plexo, founded in Abu Dhabi, provides gamers with a stable e-sport connection, allowing players to monetize their passion and concentrate on enjoying the important thing — playing. Plexo launched in December 2019 and has built a community of 1,200 players to date.


Industry: Sustainable Oral Care

Every year, over one billion tubes of toothpaste end up in landfills or polluting oceans. Blanco meets this challenge through a tablet of toothpaste. Pop the tablet in your mouth and chew, then brush as normal. Blanco took part in the 2020 Ibtikari cycle, and taps into a market that is valued at USD 26 billion.


Industry: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud Migration

SPL Co. accelerates digital transformation by automating software migration and upgrading efforts with its advanced AI capabilities. It was globally recognized the Global Telecom Award GTB, and the IET Achievement Awards that celebrate the incredible talent within engineering and technology to recognize people who have made a real impact in their industry.


Industry: Mobility Hardware

DirectSchool is a simple application that tracks a child's school bus, allowing parents and teachers, peace of mind that the child has safely arrived at school and when they are on their way home.


Industry: Sustainable Mobility

SCAR, founded by students from Khalifa University, developed a car that runs on solar power. Able to travel up to 66 kilometers per hour, the car is charged from the natural light of the sun, helping the UAE drive towards a brighter and more sustainable future.


Industry: EdTech

Chameleon is a gamified, digital learning environment introduced directly into schools in Africa as an extracurricular coding club. Their product democratizes access to high-quality Information Technology education.


Industry: E-commerce
Founder: Marwa Al Mansoori

Malena is the first app in the UAE dedicated to helping those looking for cosmetic surgery get the procedure that is right to them. Founded in 2017 by two UAE nationals, Malena provides an easy-to-use mobile platform guiding users around treatments in Dubai, helping both consumers, and providers, make the right connection.

Meet the Locals

Industry: Tourism

Few tourists get to experience the warmth and hospitality of Emirati culture. Meet the Locals is a social tourism app, founded in Dubai in 2016 connecting tourists with Emiratis who call this country their home. In 2017, the app was awarded Best Tourism Startup.


Industry: Educational Technology (EdTech)

Arabee was founded to encourage, nurture, and inspire children to learn Arabic through a fun, engaging, and organic platform, intuitive for teachers, parents, and children to use. Arabee has over 6,000 students from over 22 schools.