startAD Grows Local Entrepreneurial Talent Through Beyond the Pitch Startup Showcase

"Made in the UAE" was the theme of this prestigious entrepreneurial event held at NYU Abu Dhabi

Press Release

startAD, the innovation and entrepreneurship platform anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, held a Startup Showcase event for the inaugural Beyond the Pitch Program on Monday, April 16 at NYU Abu Dhabi.

The ceremony marked the completion of a six-week journey, with 17 student teams from more than 11 universities across the UAE convening as finalists at startAD’s co-working space to showcase their startup projects spanning society, education, health, mobility, sustainability, and happiness. The teams pitched their startups under the theme “Made in the UAE.”

The showcase concluded with grants awarded to three winning teams across three different award categories. Project Vision, from Manipal University Dubai, was awarded $3,000 in the category for Best Business Model for their virtual assistant app. The grant will be used to further develop their concept, which seeks to aid the visually impaired in their day to day activities through artificial intelligence. 

Winning $1,500 for Best Presentation was AutoChain from RAK Incubator, a decentralized application that is built on the Ethereum block-chain with a goal of creating UAE’s first block-chain car platform, while IDiaBeat from UAEU won $500 for being the Most Improved business model presented with their innovative glucose monitor for diabetes regulation.

Keynote speaker Dr. Mohamed Rashed Alhameli, the director general of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, offered poignant remarks on the importance of the continuity of new ideas and new concepts in the local business landscape. Dr. Alhameli described the UAE as a hub for new ideas in the region, where there are real opportunities for future innovation constantly being developed.

Virtual assistant app for the visually impaired “Project Vision” won the Best Business Model award grant of $3,000

With participating teams representing five out of seven emirates and putting forward four all-female Emirati teams between them, Beyond the Pitch is also a critical step towards creating entrepreneurial initiatives that target the local youth population and encourage the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship for the next generation.


As the UAE is shining the spotlight on turning its economy into a thriving entrepreneurial economy of the 21st century in the region, it is imperative that the capacity building process originates organically at the higher education institutions. Beyond the Pitch is specifically tailored to enable and immerse UAE college students in the exciting world of innovation and entrepreneurship for them to learn and apply business literacy heuristics to their ideas.

NYU Abu Dhabi Research Professor of Engineering, Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and startAD Managing Director Ramesh Jagannathan

Beyond the Pitch is a new startup program open to all UAE youth from 18 to 25 years of age with an idea for a technology-based venture that supports the UAE’s commitment to establishing an innovative and diversified economy. The program offers up to 20 teams with an existing startup project hands on training, workshops and mentorship over a period of six weeks to help them develop a business model that is scalable, repeatable, and capital efficient.

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.

About startAD

startAD is an innovation and entrepreneurship platform, anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, that supports early stage startups in the UAE.  In collaboration with Tamkeen, an Abu Dhabi Government-owned company, startAD seeks to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UAE by offering core programs and entrepreneurship initiatives. Available exclusively to nationals and residents of the UAE, these programs enable the development of technology startups in emerging local industries of strategic importance to the UAE such as energy, aviation, logistics, fintech, smart transportation and facilitate investment in local-based startups.

Selected startups that display outstanding potential and promise may also benefit from ADvance mentoring and seed funding from startAD to help scale their businesses.

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About Tamkeen

Tamkeen is an Abu Dhabi Government-owned company that delivers projects to meet the Government of Abu Dhabi’s vision of knowledge-based development. This is achieved by collaborating with a variety of local and international institutions to enrich the Emirate’s social, cultural and educational infrastructure in line with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.