ICT Fund Introduction
History of the Fund
The first of its kind in the Arab world, the ICT Fund was launched in 2007 by Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority to achieve rapid, progressive and concrete developments within the ICT sector in the UAE. The Fund launched its operations to jump start innovation within the ICT sector in the UAE mainly in the fields of intellectual capital, technological leadership, smart research, innovative ideas, and incubating start-ups.
The Fund’s Board of Trustees is chaired by TDRA and encompasses high level professionals and dignitaries from the ICT private sector, the academia, and the telecom operators of the UAE, Etisalat and du; both contributing 1% of the annual net profit to finance the Fund’s operations.
ICT Fund Overview
The Gulf region has become home to the third fastest growing Information Technology market in the world. At the heart of this progress is the UAE IT sector, having expanded by an impressive 27.5% in 2005, with signiﬁcant growth projected to continue.
Helping to drive this momentum is the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Fund. A new venture dedicated to advancing the UAE ICT sector both regionally and globally, the ICT Fund proudly shares the UAE’s commitment to innovation and progress. The ﬁrst of its kind in the Middle East, the ICT Fund is designed to fuel innovative research & development projects within the UAE ICT sector as well as support education and training in the ﬁeld.
Aiming to promote the involvement of UAE nationals in the realm of scientiﬁc and technology research, the Fund strives to create a culture of entrepreneurship in the sector and improve linkage between industry and academia. With the ﬁrm belief that technology is the creative engine of all new opportunities, the ICT Fund offers funding to drive results, introducing innovation with impact to the region.
The ICT Fund, which aims to spur the creation of a significant ICT industry in the UAE, is the first of its kind in the Middle East. The activities of the ICT Fund are geared towards helping the UAE’s ICT sector grow into a nationally significant industry with a leading place in the world.
Achieving this bold ambition requires the development of indigenous innovative technology giving the UAE a competitive edge in the global marketplace. In order to fulfill this objective, the ICT Fund focuses on three core areas to stimulate growth: education, research and development, and support entrepreneurship. In addition, the ICT Fund participates in national projects designed to create a broader supportive environment for the ICT sector.
The ICT Fund is developing education through three main programs – guaranteeing educational opportunities through awarding scholarships; strengthening the academic infrastructure for ICT within the universities; and strengthening ICT teaching in schools.
To support research and development, the ICT Fund is injecting funds into both basic and applied research and into the infrastructure that supports research.
To support entrepreneurship, the ICT fund’s mandate is to fund promising entrepreneurial ideas and in provide the infrastructure necessary for start-up businesses to succeed. In due course, the ICT Fund envisages developing purpose-designed ICT industry incubator centers in the UAE.
By focusing on these core areas, the ICT Fund will contribute to the development of the entire ICT value chain. The ICT Fund’s work will set in motion a beneficial or an exemplary step that will deliver competitive capabilities independent of any imported resources, in essence, creating a self-reliant industry for the nation. Through this work the ICT Fund plans to create an industry that will proudly carry the banner ‘Made in the UAE.’
While providing funding is the core activity of the ICT Fund, in order to do so, it needs capable and motivated individuals to come forward with their ideas, proposals, or prototypes to apply for the financial resource and support from the ICT Fund to further their technological endeavor. To encourage these qualified individuals to come forward, the ICT Fund maintains a steady momentum of creating and spreading awareness among UAE nationals through focused and broader outreach in the community.
Building a Knowledge Based Society
The objectives of the ICT Fund to elevate the UAE ICT sector require utilizing available resources; mainly the citizens of the country. Therefore, the first link in the chain of this eco-system is focused on motivating younger generations to move towards disciplines related to the ICT sector. The starting point for achieving this interest in ICT is in the early stages at schools, where the Fund is opting to establish scientific and technical laboratories and centers to ensure the first contact of the young students with technology triggers their curiosity about the ICT sector. The aim is that this early curiosity then directs them at later stages towards technical disciplines in colleges, and later allows them to explore the talents which will be utilized not only in their higher education in ICT field but also to develop the character needed to be a future ICT leader.
Knowledge capital is a key driver to innovation that can give the UAE a leading edge in the global marketplace. The ICT Fund provides generous grants to research projects, which results in the development of applied R&D, and the generation of related patents and research papers. The ICT Fund seeks to enable R&D teams to carry out world-class research and create high-quality R&D centers in the UAE focusing on basic and applied ICT research. As R&D is a critical enabler to the development of the broader ICT ecosystem, advancing education and ensuring the UAE’s ICT infrastructure is at the forefront of global development.
ICT Fund backs entrepreneurs and industry pioneers who aim to contribute to the UAE’s ICT sector. The development of any product or service that will carry the mark ‘Made in the UAE’ is eligible for funding. The ICT Fund supports both individual entrepreneurs, and larger incubation initiatives, dedicated to the ICT sector.
Even the most innovative ideas need support in order to reach a viable launch phase. Bringing together the right business expertise will allow the innovator the opportunity to maintain focus on the product and service. The development of the prototype is the final step before the start-up phase where the innovator can turn their idea into a marketable product.
In line with the “UAE’s Vision 2021” aim to achieve a high quality of life in a sustainable environment for the future generations, the ICT Fund seeks to provide support for the initiatives and national entrepreneurial projects relevant to the ICT sector. By funding and promoting the national projects, the Fund supports the governments strategic plans in achieving sustainable development and infrastructure that will enhance the UAE’s global standing.
The ICT Ecosystem
ICT ecosystem is defined as the Integrated perspective of markets, networks, services, applications and content and determining governance, legal and regulatory frameworks. The open information and communication (ICT) ecosystems are one way that enterprises and governments can help themselves adapt, innovate and compete in our high-speed, wireless world, enabling them to build a knowledge based economy.
Today, information and communication technologies, is rapidly changing in every society, creating a new set of unique demands on governments, businesses, and our everyday lives. Increasingly, decision makers in all fields are looking to technology to provide solutions and drive desired changes by commingling local, national and global resources in innovative ways.
Building an integrated information society by harnessing ICT aims to achieve sustainable development in society, and can be summarized in seven main axes, aligning with the World Summit on the Information Society:
- Investment and modernization of ICT infrastructure
- Enabling all segments of society to access information
- Building human resource capability through continuous training.
- Enhance security of information -privacy and data protection.
- establishment of a legal and regulatory environment for the ICT sector
- Focus on e-learning and the deployment of ICT applications and programs.
- Create and develop digital content to enhance the presence of the Arabic language on the World Wide Web