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Abu Dhabi's latest R&D milestone
Brand new R&D lab another big milestone for Abu Dhabi
Sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) this week announced 𝗔𝗗𝗜𝗔 𝗟𝗮𝗯, a new research and development centre for basic and applied research in data and computational sciences. In a calendar that's becoming increasingly full of R&D announcements from the UAE capital, this is potentially the biggest R&D news this year. However, it is all the more significant when one takes into account that the ecosystem this R&D lab enters is a very different one to that of even just two years ago.
Abu Dhabi has long been a sponsor of research and development programmes, but it is only recently that the emirate has identified R&D as a key driver for its economy.
Although UAE University has been running research programmes for decades, it is really over the past 15 years that the academic research sector has matured into a multi-institutional research commmunity, with dozens of specialised research labs, public/private sector funding and an increasing degree of private sector collaboration.
In the past 3-4 years, Abu Dhabi universities have moved faster to build R&D capacity for AI, robotics, spacetech and other high tech areas, creating dozens of labs. For example, you can now find artificial intelligence and robotics centres at Khalifa University, New York University Abu Dhabi, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi and United Arab Emirates University. Meanwhile, the world's first graduate-level research university for AI, MBZUAI (Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence), opened in 2020.
Over the past five years, we've seen private and government investment in research and development ramp up dramatically, in particular in technology and digitally-enabled industry sectors. Companies like EDGE, Dark Matter (now dissolved) and G42 have invested heavily in both computer power and talent to develop new digital solutions and technologies in Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile, government funded initiatives have encouraged global tech startups to bring R&D into the emirate.
In recognition of the fast pace of growth and future potential for R&D in Abu Dhabi, the government established the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) in 2020, with a goal of defining policy and strategy for the emirate's developing research and development ecosystem. An applied research centre, the Technology Innovation Institute (TII), was also formed under the ATRC. The Masdar City-based TII now has 10 research centres and employs 500 people.
To be headed up by Berkeley Lab deputy director Horst Simon, the new ADIA Lab will focus on a variety of areas including climate change, energy transition, blockchain, financial inclusion and investing, decision making, automation, cybersecurity, health sciences, education, telecoms and space. So, not a small endeavour!
Unlike its predecessors, the new lab will build out its operations in a local R&D ecosystem that employs hundreds, if not thousands of research staff and PhD student researchers (the accurate numbers depend on the criteria used). The new lab could potentially add hundreds more professionals to the local ecosystem, which is already becoming a magnet for R&D talent from around the world.
The ADIA Lab now enters a multi-level R&D ecosystem with private, government and academic research communities. As a result, the new lab will also have the widest array of potential collaboration opportunities that any new R&D centre has ever had in Abu Dhabi.
Another significant milestone in Abu Dhabi's R&D journey.
Abu Dhabi R&D Timeline (2022)
To give you more of a flavour for what's cooking in the UAE capital, here's a timeline of Abu Dhabi R&D announcements from 2002 so far:
📅 JAN 2022 - The Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) launches VentureOne, a new commercialization arm to bring innovative research solutions to market. [Read more]
📅 JAN 2022 - TII opens three new advanced technology research centres for Propulsion, Alternative Energy, and Biotechnology. [Read more]
📅 JAN 2022 - ASPIRE, the technology program management arm of the ATRC commits AED 200 million funding across five years for three Virtual Research Institutes (VRIs) in Abu Dhabi universities. [Read more]
📅 FEB 2022 - TII's Advanced Materials Research Centre (AMRC) opens MENA's first Impact Lab to test materials and bring them to a where they can transition from lab to industry. [Read more]
📅 APR 2022 - NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Research Institute adds four new research centres – the Arabian Center for Climate and Environmental ScienceS (ACCESS), the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), the Center for Smart Engineering Materials (CSEM), and the Center for Quantum and Topological Systems. [Read more]
📅 MAY 2022 - Mohammed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) and IBM agree to open an AI Centre of Excellence at its Masdar City campus to develop products. [Read more]
📅 MAY 2022 - TII opens a new Directed Energy Research Center (DERC) facility in Tawazun Industrial Park (TIP) with five specialised laboratories. [Read more]
📅 JUN 2022 - ADNOC and G42 joint venture AIQ and MBZUAI agree to create a joint R&D lab to explore solutions for the energy sector. [Read more]
📅 JUN 2022 - Abu Dhabi investment and holding group ADQ launches ADQ Growth Lab, together with a AED 100 million fund to fast-track tech R&D testbed projects. [Read more]
📅 JUN 2022 - Emirates Steel Arkan Group and Abu Dhabi University (ADU) announce plans to establish the UAE’s first metallurgical laboratory specialised in steelmaking. [Read more]
📅 JUN 2022 - Abu Dhabi University opens its first Sustainable Development Venture Lab in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), which will deployed across the university's five campuses. [Read more]
📅 SEP 2022 - Abu Dhabi's Department of Health launches grant programme to fund clinical research projects that address life-threatening diseases. [Read more]
📅 OCT 2022 - Sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) announces ADIA Lab for for basic and applied research in data and computational sciences. [Read more]
Find out more about Abu Dhabi R&D:
Read my Linkedin post on this.
Download the ADIA press release (PDF)
Visit the ATRC website.
Read Middle East AI News 13-Jan-22 (Linkedin version)
This article first appeared on Linkedin.