The accelerator was launched in 2019, and the program launched its second cohort of startups this April. Dr. Asma Ibrahim Al Mannaei, DOH Executive Director Research & Innovation shares her perspective on the program and the evolution of Abu Dhabi’s support mechanisms for startups and SMEs.
Health Plug and Play MENA is the region’s first healthtech startup accelerator, a joint program between the Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DOH) and Plug and Play ADGM.
The MENA HealthTech Accelerator (Health Plug and Play MENA) was launched in 2019, and the program launched its second cohort of startups this April.
Through their first full program in 2020, “Alliance to Fight COVID-19” (AFC-19), Plug and Play and DOH contacted 120+ startups, evaluating 60+ startups, selecting 12 companies before successfully accelerating 8 of them. AFC-19 was also joined by non-healthcare partners like Etihad Airways and Ma’an.
Last year, the first cohort of accelerated startups were supported to test and deploy cutting-edge technology solutions to support the community and address the COVID-19 challenges from telemedicine to e-triage, remote monitoring, and innovative diagnostics solutions. The accelerator provided these selected innovators with a soft-landing and accessible platform to explore collaborations with local hospitals, health insurers, and industry players to help them develop and scale their solutions.
Dr. Asma Ibrahim Al Mannaei, DOH Executive Director Research & Innovation notes that Abu Dhabi has progressed a lot in terms of supporting startups by helping to establish and scale these businesses. The creation of entities like Hub71 offer new, unique opportunities.
Startups however continue to face major challenges, such as early-stage funding and opportunities to develop and test products.
The DOH established a partnership with Plug and Play to attract international startups to Abu Dhabi and grow the local HealthTech ecosystem. It has dedicated a full team to work with HealthTech innovators at Hub71.
It aims to grow the ecosystem by supporting more startups and SMEs to land in Abu Dhabi and help scale such sector-focused businesses, but also by inviting more corporate partners to Abu Dhabi.