CEO of Emirates Development Bank, Haitham Kamhiyah, stated, “The Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) plans to provide financial support aggregating AED 100 million (US $27.2 million) for the year 2018,” following MBRIF’s strategy meeting with associates from the Ministry of Finance and members of its Advisory Board.
The MBRIF is an initiative sponsored by the state which was initially brought up and financed by the Ministry of Finance to bring financial support to local innovators in accessing affordable finance through the facility of a guarantee backed by the government. The financial ticket sizes range from AED 1 million ($272,250) to AED 10 million ($2.7 million).
“The fund is in line with the UAE National Innovation Strategy (Vision 2021), with the aim to place UAE among the top 10 most innovative nations in the world. Currently, the UAE is ranked 35th on the Global Innovation Index as per 2017,” Kamhiyah said.
The AED 2 billion ($544.5 million) capital was announced back in November 2015 during UAE’s maiden Innovation Week, which wanted to present a diversity of innovative initiatives across federal and local levels of government and within the private sector.
Kamhiyah further stated that MBRIF is presently trying to distribute AED 22 million (almost US$ 6 million) to innovative companies that have been shortlisted in the UAE in Q2 2018. “Details will be shared once these are past the evaluation stage,” he said.
He also shared UAE’s ambitions in the National Innovation Strategy, which will focus in developing an environment, which will promote and enable innovation by providing the right regulatory framework and comprehensive enabling services, enhancing the technology infrastructure, and ensure adequate amount of investments and incentives.
“The Fund also has a global mandate encouraging foreign innovators to relocate to the UAE and register their business locally to foster a robust knowledge economy, encourage job creation, and nurture an environment that promotes a culture of innovation across the nation,” he explained.
There are specific sectors that the MBRIF is focusing on, mainly: Technology, renewable energy, water, healthcare, education, transportation and space. Sectors that can influence and improve the country’s social and economic progress will also be considered.
Last year, MBRIF announced a AED 2 million ($540,000) investment in InternsME, which is a UAE-based platform to connect interns with career opportunities. Kamhiyah also revealed that MBRIF has approved two more deals, which will be shortly announced.
To be able to apply for the MBRIF, one should have a registered business and a substantial base in the UAE. The business should be owned by either an Emirati or an expatriate, the business must be inventive and at a post-ideation phase. The company should also possess and optimal debt/equity capital structure, and demonstrate financial forecasts to reveal debt repayment capacities.