Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge and startAD Open Applications for Inaugural YouthTech Competition

Applications now open for young innovators between the ages of 18-29

Press Release

Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) has joined forces with startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and powered by its partner Tamkeen to launch the inaugural edition of the YouthTech Competition. 

Developed in response to COVID-19, the YouthTech Competition, which will be held virtually, is aimed at young innovators in the UAE who are passionate about developing tech-enabled solutions for some of the greatest global challenges across the themes of education, the economy, infrastructure, and society. UAE innovators can register until August 8 at youthtech.ae, with the competition scheduled to commence on August 17.

The competition is part of Abu Dhabi Inspires, a programme that promotes agile thinking and supports bright minds to invent, develop and launch tangible ideas that will have a positive impact on people now and into the future.

Over a period of four weeks, accepted participants will receive training that will equip them with the skills to transform their concepts into entrepreneurial projects. The competition encourages youth to work on solutions that envision remote education tools, enable economic activity virtually, design infrastructure projects to benefit communities, and foster social collaboration online. 

The competition does not require prior background in entrepreneurship, but successful applicants should be able to show interest and curiosity in entrepreneurship and innovation. A total cash prize of AED 25,000 will be distributed among the winning participants to assist in realising their startup concepts. Top teams will also have the opportunity to further advance their innovations through startAD programs.

Majid Al Shamsi, Higher Education Business Development Division Director at Abu Dhabi Department of Knowledge and Education (ADEK), said: “One of our key objectives is to foster a culture of entrepreneurship amongst the youth. When evaluating partners for this initiative, startAD was the obvious choice because they share our vision on the importance of empowering young talent to develop innovative ideas that will impact the future. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem is critical, and the opportunities that this initiative presents will challenge the youth and provide them with the tools to translate their ambitions into reality in four vital sectors, education, economy, infrastructure, and society. This will encourage the youth to continue innovating despite the challenges and build the future that will serve our society. We look forward to witnessing innovative ideas being turned into impactful projects over the coming weeks.”


“We are inspired by the enthusiasm of the UAE youth to explore opportunities to imagine and shape a better world during these hard times of the pandemic. This period has shined the spotlight on the important role of technology in improving the quality of our everyday personal and professional life.”

Research Professor of Engineering, Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship at NYUAD, and Managing Director of startAD Ramesh Jagannathan

Jagannathan added: “The YouthTech Competition held in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Department of Knowledge and Education (ADEK), and a part of the Abu Dhabi Inspires program is designed to ignite the spirit of inventive discovery among our youth and leverage the power of entrepreneurship to impact the world. We look forward to nurturing new talent and equipping the participants with the fundamental entrepreneurial skills to construct innovative solutions for our future.”

Interested participants can apply on youthtech.ae. Applications should be 500 words in length, containing a problem and solution statement for a tech-enabled startup that focuses on providing digital solutions for the challenge themes impacted by COVID-19.

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.