startAD and Department of Health – Abu Dhabi launch HealthX to advance Abu Dhabi as global biotech and life sciences hub

Posted on 15-05-2024

startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based startup accelerator, which is part of Tamkeen and based at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), and the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), signed an agreement to launch HealthX, a startup programme that seeks to advance Abu Dhabi as a hub in the biotech and life science industry. HealthX will advance 30 global cutting-edge life science startups into the UAE’s healthcare ecosystem over two years.

The agreement was signed by Dr Asma Ibrahim Al Mannaei, Executive Director of the Research and Innovation Centre at DoH, and Ramesh Jagannathan, Managing Director of startAD. Taking place at the Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week (ADGHW), the timing of the announcement underscores both parties’ commitment to help boost the UAE’s innovation credentials in the healthcare sector.

Applications are now open for the inaugural cohort on generative AI in healthcare and life sciences. Subsequent cohorts will focus on genomics and precision medicine, neurodegenerative disease, advanced therapeutics, drug discovery, mental health, and assistive technology for People of Determination.

The incubator offers six weeks of intensive training, personalised support, and the potential to secure customers in the UAE. It assists global and local entrants to develop a highly customised pilot proposal and a deep understanding of the UAE market. Successful applicants will benefit from access to the DoH regulatory sandbox and UAE de-identified data to help refine their product, along with admittance to labs and opportunities to collaborate on cutting-edge research at leading academic institutes. The business support clinic includes finance, legal, licensing, IP support, ongoing mentorship, and introduction to venture capitalists. Networking prospects include pilot discussions with healthcare partners, licensing opportunities from the DoH, along with an interconnected ecosystem with key players such as DoH, NMC Healthcare, Burjeel Holdings and Harley Street Medical Centre, and onboarding to the startAD alumni programme.

Dr Asma Ibrahim Al Mannaei, Executive Director of Research and Innovation Centre at DoH, said: "As the regulator of the healthcare sector in the emirate, DoH continues to spearhead borderless collaborations, research and innovation to enable a healthier future for all, hence positioning Abu Dhabi as a leading destination for healthcare and life sciences on the global stage. We are delighted to be collaborating with startAD, a partnership poised to tackle global healthcare challenges through supporting start-ups and enabling innovation, which is key topic of this year’s Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week."

Ramesh Jagannathan, Managing Director of startAD, said: "The future of health holds immense possibilities, and Abu Dhabi aims to be a global leader in the field. In partnership with the Department of Health, we are leading the charge to transform the industry and co-create a sustainable operating environment for global healthcare life sciences startups. Our focus is on attracting innovators dedicated to propelling the UAE to the forefront of healthcare, life-science research, and innovation. With top-quality services and a commitment to excel in healthtech and biotech, I believe we are setting the stage for something extraordinary."

The initiative is open to global and local pre-seed to series B startups developing innovative technologies with a clear use case for the Abu Dhabi healthcare industry. A strong team will include at least two members with relevant experience, demonstrated traction through existing pilots and customers, and a willingness to expand into the UAE, if not already established in the country. Startups with a product or minimum viable product (MVP) ready to test and implement with corporate customers and a clear roadmap showcasing scalability potential are encouraged to apply.

Life sciences and biotechnology, combining the power of biology, genetics, and technology, are rapidly developing fields that show great promise in addressing pressing health challenges today and in the future. The technologies can also be used to develop health products and therapies, from bioengineered tissues to next-generation vaccines, at lower costs than traditional solutions. The Abu Dhabi healthcare market is ripe for advanced technology startups to make a tangible impact with an existing ecosystem of best-in-class healthcare provision, a wealth of data and digital infrastructure, and a globally leading genomics programme. The aim of the programme is to provide a strong platform for startups to address critical challenges in healthcare delivery, improve patient outcomes, and streamline operations across the healthcare value chain.

For more information, please visit: startad.ae/programs/healthx