The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority awarded equity-free funding to five international start-ups in a new entrepreneurship programme aimed at localising promising technology for young learners.
The new Anjal Z initiative is part of a broader effort by Abu Dhabi to promote data-centred and innovative approaches to childhood development, while increasing access and improving affordability to families.
“Innovations occur everywhere, but breakthrough innovations, the kind that leverage novel technologies and business models to increase accessibility, improve offerings and reduce costs, have for years tended to stay within the private sector,” said Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority.
“The ECA, as part of the public sector, is spearheading innovation in order to transform how people think about and address the needs of young children across the UAE.”
With day cares and preschools closing amid the Covid-19 pandemic, technology tools have become a critical resource to some parents seeking enrichment for their young children.
The five growth-stage start-ups are:
- Kinedu, from Mexico, a video-centric mobile and desktop platform for early childhood development exercises for both home and school
- Afinidata, an AI-powered chatbot from Guatemala that equips parents with personalised educational activities to develop the brains of their children
- The UAE’s Lamsa, whose mobile application was made available for free to parents at the start of the pandemic to help with home learning, encourages parents to engage with their children through culturally relevant and interactive Arabic stories, games and videos
- Nurturey, from the UK, is a mobile app for parents to manage the health and development of their children through a content connection with the NHS
- Kinderly, also from the UK, is a software-as-a-service platform that supports staff in nurseries to improve outcomes for all children
In addition to the equity-free funding of $60,000 (Dh220,000), the start-ups received mentorship from leading subject matter experts and access to local partnerships with government and non-government entities in Abu Dhabi. These partnerships include the Department of Health, the Department of Community Development and the Department of Education and Knowledge, in-kind services and follow-on investment opportunities.
Thirty Emirati graduates were also selected to work with the start-ups, enabling them to look towards starting small and medium enterprises and creating job opportunities in the areas of early childhood and entrepreneurship.
International growth-stage start-ups that focus on improving early childhood development across Health & Nutrition, Early Care & Education, Child Protection and Family Support targeting children between the ages 0-8 years old can apply to participate in the programme. The second cohort be announced later this year.
Source: The National