Programs and initiatives supporting energy and sustainability SMEs in the UAE

Programs and initiatives supporting energy and sustainability SMEs in the UAE 

Given the UAE's drive towards clean energy and sustainability, many resources are available today for startups and SMEs in these sectors to benefit from, including accelerators, events, free zones, and more.

Despite it being one of the top hydrocarbon-producing countries in the world, the UAE has made its focus on renewable and clean energy abundantly clear. 

The overarching plan guiding this direction has been the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25 per cent to 50 per cent by 2050 and reduce the carbon footprint of power generation by 70 per cent, thus saving AED 700 billion by 2050. It also seeks to increase the consumption efficiency of individuals and corporates by 40 per cent.

Sustainability is also part of the big picture for the UAE, with the local government having set out a series of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will help it steer the country towards a more environment-friendly future.  

Earlier this month, we explored some interesting energy and sustainability startups operating in the UAE, and how they were doing their part to support the shift to a green future. Multiple projects, initiatives, and programs from both the public and private sectors have been created to support this growing industry, and there are many opportunities for startups and SMEs to benefit from them. 

The Catalyst

the catalyst accelerator uae masdar city free zone abu dhabi

The Catalyst is the region’s first clean technology startup accelerator based in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s pioneering sustainable urban development and innovation hub. Supported by Masdar and energy giant BP, The Catalyst helps startups accelerate their business through funding, training and mentorship. Based in Masdar City Free Zone, The Catalyst targets eco-friendly business ideas that are 1-3 years away from commercialization, and accelerates them through a holistic program, which provides entrepreneurs with a range of services and support needed to run a business.

For more information on the services and support provided by The Catalyst, visit:

Masdar City Free Zone

Another component of Masdar City, the eponymous Free Zone is a thriving business community home to a diverse, innovative and ambitious collection of companies, from multinationals to SMEs and startups, like solar energy tech company Volts and cleantech venture FortyGuard.

Business set-up benefits include:

You can find more information here

Plug and Play Abu Dhabi’s Industry 4.0 Open Innovation Platform

Announced last year, Plug and Play Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, launched a first-of-its-kind Industry 4.0 open innovation platform in the emirate.

As part of the platform, key industry stakeholders and thought leaders from across Plug and Play Abu Dhabi's ecosystem will define tech challenges and innovation bottlenecks to be solved by startups as part of accelerator programmes and bespoke challenges. Plug and Play Abu Dhabi will also help to accelerate deployment of innovative pilots, tech integrations and new products.

While the platform is quite diverse in the sectors it covers, energy is a major focus. 

You can find more information here.

Middle East Energy 

Middle East Energy enjoys a 45+ year legacy as one of the most reputable and long-established events in the energy industry. 

Middle East Energy connects the global energy community, allowing you to discover products and network with exhibitors from all around the world.

The event allows you to discover the latest in energy innovations and attend keynote sessions to gain valuable knowledge on the future of the energy sector. It also offers great networking opportunities for entrepreneurs. 

The event often hosts the Energy Startup Hub pitch competition, where energy startups get a chance to showcase their innovations to a panel of industry experts, and an audience of potential investors.

You can find more information about Middle East Energy here.

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and World Future Energy Summit

To accelerate global collaboration and sustainability around the world, Abu Dhabi created Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), hosted by Masdar. ADSW is a global platform for accelerating the world’s sustainable development, which is held annually at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

ADSW takes a proactive approach at a grassroots level, encouraging social inclusion by hosting a series of platforms and events aimed at engaging and empowering young people, females and members of the community to play an active role in delivering a sustainable future.

Working with its public and private partners, ADSW hosts a series of events that welcome heads of state, policy makers, business leaders and technology pioneers, providing them with a global platform to share knowledge, showcase innovation and outline strategies for delivering climate action.

You can find more information on the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week here.

A notable part of ADSW is World Future Energy Summit, a major international event accelerating sustainability and the global transition to clean energy.

Part exhibition, technology showcase, investment incubator and business forum all rolled into one event, the summit convenes leaders, innovators and global thinkers to share ideas that are creating the blueprints for a sustainable future.

You can find more information here.

Ma’an Social Incubator

While the Ma’an Social Incubator (MSI) primarily is devoted to encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship to develop solutions to social and cultural challenges, it also supports entrepreneurs and SMEs helping address environmental challenges. Twice a year, MSI will host the most promising teams and provide them with the resources and support they need in order to grow and thrive.

The selected teams will be offered learning and development, mentorship and coaching, as well as networking and funding opportunities. It is a unique chance for entrepreneurs to develop their innovative ideas for social impact into a sustainable social enterprise.

Again, this program is more focused on social causes, but you might be able to secure their support if your venture has a strong sustainability focus, especially on communities. 

You can find more info, as well as enquire and apply, here.

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