Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge and startAD open applications….

Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge and startAD open applications for inaugural YouthTech Competition


  • The first edition of the competition is in response to COVID-19 and comes as part of the Abu Dhabi Inspires program, enabling UAE youth to transform education, the economy, infrastructure, and society through startup concepts
  • Accepted participants will be equipped with the training and tools to transform their concepts into entrepreneurial projects
  • Applications now open for young innovators between the ages of 18-29


Abu Dhabi, UAE – July 11, 2020: Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) has joined forces with startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and powered by its partner Tamkeen to launch the inaugural edition of the YouthTech Competition.


Developed in response to COVID-19, the YouthTech Competition, which will be held virtually, is aimed at young innovators in the UAE who are passionate about developing tech-enabled solutions for some of the greatest global challenges across the themes of education, the economy, infrastructure, and society. UAE innovators can register until August 8 at youthtech.ae, with the competition scheduled to commence on August 17.


The competition is part of Abu Dhabi Inspires, a programme that promotes agile thinking and supports bright minds to invent, develop and launch tangible ideas that will have a positive impact on people now and into the future.


Over a period of four weeks, accepted participants will receive training that will equip them with the skills to transform their concepts into entrepreneurial projects. The competition encourages youth to work on solutions that envision remote education tools, enable economic activity virtually, design infrastructure projects to benefit communities, and foster social collaboration online.


The competition does not require prior background in entrepreneurship, but successful applicants should be able to show interest and curiosity in entrepreneurship and innovation. A total cash prize of AED 25,000 will be distributed among the winning participants to assist in realising their startup concepts. Top teams will also have the opportunity to further advance their innovations through startAD programs.


Majid Al Shamsi, Higher Education Business Development Division Director at Abu Dhabi Department of Knowledge and Education (ADEK), said: “One of our key objectives is to foster a culture of entrepreneurship amongst the youth. When evaluating partners for this initiative, startAD was the obvious choice because they share our vision on the importance of empowering young talent to develop innovative ideas that will impact the future. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem is critical, and the opportunities that this initiative presents will challenge the youth and provide them with the tools to translate their ambitions into reality in four vital sectors, education, economy, infrastructure, and society. This will encourage the youth to continue innovating despite the challenges and build the future that will serve our society. We look forward to witnessing innovative ideas being turned into impactful projects over the coming weeks.”


Research Professor of Engineering, Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship at NYUAD, and Managing Director of startAD Ramesh Jagannathan commented: “We are inspired by the enthusiasm of the UAE youth to explore opportunities to imagine and shape a better world during these hard times of the pandemic. This period has shined the spotlight on the important role of technology in improving the quality of our everyday personal and professional life.”


He added: “The YouthTech Competition held in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Department of Knowledge and Education (ADEK), and a part of the Abu Dhabi Inspires program is designed to ignite the spirit of inventive discovery among our youth and leverage the power of entrepreneurship to impact the world. We look forward to nurturing new talent and equipping the participants with the fundamental entrepreneurial skills to construct innovative solutions for our future.”


Interested participants can apply on youthtech.ae. Applications should be 500 words in length, containing a problem and solution statement for a tech-enabled startup that focuses on providing digital solutions for the challenge themes impacted by COVID-19.




About Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK)

The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) is the Education Sector regulator across the Emirate. It oversees and provides services throughout a learner’s journey from early education to university and beyond. It also champions inclusivity for People of Determination in the mainstream schooling system and by providing specialized schools.


Across Early Childhood and K-12, ADEK licenses and regulates nurseries and private schools in Abu Dhabi while also legislating, mandating and managing its own Charter Schools and 2 schools for People of Determination.


ADEK also annually provides distinguished Abu Dhabi students with full scholarships and support to study at the best universities around the world. In addition, the Department audits and enhances the delivery of Higher Education in Abu Dhabi, attracting Higher Education Institutions to open the required programs or schools that serve Abu Dhabi’s needs while championing a student and faculty-friendly ecosystem in the Emirate.


With a vision to Empower Education. Empower Minds. Empower the Future, ADEK recognizes that every learner is different, and a diversity of teaching methods are essential for students to succeed. To that effect, ADEK partners with stakeholders to enable a great education system to flourish in Abu Dhabi and nurture future-ready graduates who have the 21st century skills required to sustain and carry forward Abu Dhabi’s vision.



About startAD

startAD is an Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator steering seed-stage technology startups to launch, develop, and scale their ventures. Anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi and powered by its partner Tamkeen, the accelerator equips startups to pilot solutions with industry leaders, while enabling corporates to innovate with startups disrupting their core businesses.


startAD has the unique domain expertise and state-of-the-art facilities to develop startups with a focus on hardware and AI, as well as other solutions in priority industries including aviation, energy, sustainability, construction, and security. Enrolled startups benefit from startAD’s extensive range of programs and global network of investors, mentors, and experts, in addition to access to startAD’s seed fund for local startups. Since startAD’s launch in 2016, participating startups have raised USD 45 million in investment, generated USD 15 million in revenue, secured over 50 pilot projects with corporations, and created over 230 jobs.


About Tamkeen

Tamkeen is an Abu Dhabi based company mandated to deliver projects to meet the UAE’s vision of knowledge-based development. Tamkeen works with a variety of local and international institutions to enrich the UAE’s social, cultural and educational landscape.


About ‘Abu Dhabi Inspires’

Abu Dhabi Inspires is a programme of initiatives that transform adversity into opportunity.

Launched in order to drive forward innovative responses to current realities, Abu Dhabi Inspires will include initiatives that capture emerging opportunities, tap into new trends and have a positive impact on people now and into the future. Three pillars define the focus of the programme, which is aimed at all sections of the community: Virtual Experiences, Constant Innovation and Community Solidarity.


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