startAD Announces First-Ever Comprehensive Program for Hardware Startups in UAE

Finalists will be awarded a prototyping grant and be considered for investment by startAD

Press Release

startAD has invited innovative startups to apply for UAE’s first hardware Venture Launchpad, an immersive 10-day entrepreneurship program at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) that will help startups develop a scalable, repeatable, and capital efficient venture. The program will take place from December 4 to 13, 2017, while the deadline to apply is set for November 15, 2017.

The program is open to any early-stage hardware startup and is free of charge to accepted teams. It will culminate in a demo day where finalists will showcase their startups to investors, corporate partners, media, and the UAE startup community. Finalists at the demo day will win a prototyping grant and be considered for investment and mentoring by startAD and will have the opportunity to travel to Shenzhen, China to get a firsthand look at the hardware ecosystem.

“There is a growing interest in this space. We look forward to making Abu Dhabi the center for innovation in hardware and to help startups graduating from the program create global impact,” said Ramesh Jagannathan, managing director of startAD and vice provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at NYU Abu Dhabi.

In addition to refining their prototypes, startups accepted into the program will gain a foundational understanding of design thinking methodologies, development of a go-to-market strategy, financial planning including valuation and funding as well as the chance to connect with manufacturing sources and prototyping labs in China.

“Unlike software, where you can build your product from anywhere in a few hours, hardware makers need a platform with access to cutting-edge simulation tools, prototyping assistance, exposure to the manufacturing and supply chain processes, and business, technology, and industry-specific mentoring to iterate quickly to get off the ground. If you are entering the MENA market, domain-specific, value-added guidance is critical. The hardware venture launchpad provides startups with the resources, tools, and network to accelerate significantly in a short time span,” he added.

Participants will have the opportunity to build their prototype at Al Warsha, the startAD lab equipped with the latest in prototyping tools, including 3D printers, laser cutters, PCB Printers and an assortment of hand tools along with guidance from startAD’s innovation engineer.

“Technology such as 3D printing and Arduino have disrupted hardware similar to how open source disrupted software. Today, anyone with an idea can make intelligent hardware as long as they have access to the technology. At startAD, we are excited to support deep technology startups that will contribute to the diversification of the economy of the UAE” said Erkki Aaltonen, executive director at startAD.

Interested teams can sign up for information sessions about the program here: Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Promising hardware startups with the vision and drive to build a successful company and who have a tested concept, initial prototype/produce, and an initial team can apply through the startAD website -

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.