SAVI, Abu Dhabi’s Gateway to Global Smart Mobility Leadership

SAVI, Abu Dhabi’s Gateway to Global Smart Mobility Leadership 

Launched by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) in October 2023, Abu Dhabi’s Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry (SAVI) cluster is a hub for smart mobility in the MENA region. Nayef Shahin, Director of Innovation & Knowledge at the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), explains SAVI’s purpose and ambitions.

Why was SAVI established?

As the Falcon Economy strategy mandates, we’ve established multiple economic clusters that will contribute to the growth of Abu Dhabi’s GDP. SAVI is one of these clusters, designed with the ambitious vision to make Abu Dhabi one of the leading cities globally when it comes to smart and autonomous mobility. 

We have the opportunity to play a major role in this industry. We’re very well positioned in terms of infrastructure, talent pool, investment availability, capability, and regulatory approach. And, given our location and economic ties with the region, Abu Dhabi is a great platform for all companies looking to serve the rest of the world.

In that context, SAVI’s role is to break barriers to entry, acting as a catalyst and enabler. We are not looking to bring in sales offices or business development; we want to bring in the technologies, value chain, supply chain, knowledge and know-how. We want to incubate startups and make sure that companies have a soft landing when they come and set up in Abu Dhabi, with state-of-the-art facilities and regulatory services; and, of course, we want to streamline the adoption of these technologies within Abu Dhabi. 

Our end goal is to directly contribute AED 44 billion to Abu Dhabi’s GDP and create between 35,000 to 40,000 jobs by 2045.

How is SAVI planning to achieve these objectives?

Since launch, we’ve been focusing on two priorities. Firstly, solving key challenges; what needs to be done and how to get it done; what is already here and what is missing – autonomous driving regulation at the regulatory level and the construction of vertiports for air taxis at the infrastructure level, for example.

Secondly, we talk to all the major players and key companies globally, showing them what we have and what we can offer them here. 

Our value proposition revolves around five key elements: certification and dedicated testing zones; facilities for manufacturing, system integration, and MRO; a one-stop-shop regulatory service; business acceleration services in the form of incubation programmes; and software development and prototyping support with R&D labs, 3D-printing facilities, etc.

In short, we make sure our house is in order and then invite residents to be in it. 

How will SAVI operate?

We’re headquartered in Masdar City, which already houses many adjacent and similar services, and we will utilise Abu Dhabi’s existing infrastructure.

For air applications, Tawazun Industrial Park (TIP) provides its Nibras Aerospace Park; it also hosts the Al Ain airport, Ammroc for maintenance and repair, Strata for airplane parts manufacturing, Horizon for pilot training, Adveti for vocational training, and so on.

For land applications, we already have a well-established road network and testbed within Yas Island and Saadiyat. TXAI, ITC & Bayanat’s autonomous taxi fleet, has been operational there since 2021, demonstrating that the area has all the mapping and information required to test autonomous vehicles. 

As for sea applications, Mussafah hosts a port and the Abu Dhabi Maritime Academy, with close access to manufacturing facilities as well as the seabed. 

What are the different entities that SAVI collaborates with?

We have a large number of partners, ranging from regulators – the General Civil Aviation Authority, the Integrated Transport Centre/Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport, the Department of Economic Development, & Abu Dhabi Maritime – to infrastructure partners like Masdar, Miral, Abu Dhabi Ports, and others. 

We’re also working with innovation partners like Hub71, Aspire, universities, and academia. And, last but not least, we work with the private sector: the manufacturers, the innovators, the R&D people who face challenges and need support.

How many private companies have joined the SAVI ecosystem so far?

Since inception, we’ve had more than 200+ inquiries and we are in advanced conversations with 25-30 major companies. 

We use multiple channels, from our website to attending events and speaking at conferences, to promote SAVI globally.

In addition, to solidify our position as one of the key players in this industry, we’re inauguring DRIFTx, a global thought-leadership event with guests from across the globe and live demos of the latest smart mobility technologies and trends out there. It will be two days of conference on April 25-26, for smart and autonomous industry leaders to gather. Expect fantastic announcements at DRIFTx. 

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