Launch of Entrepreneurship Hub on AURAK campus is in sync with UAE’s vision to accelerate growth of SMEs and startups
January 16, 2023: The Entrepreneurship Hub at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) is intensifying its efforts to create an entrepreneurship ecosystem through which AURAK students, alums, and the community, in general, can execute their business ideas.
Launched in the Spring of 2021, AURAK’s Entrepreneurship Hub is a joint initiative of the School of Business’s Centre for Entrepreneurship (ACE) and the School of Engineering’s Center for Information, Communication and Networking Education and Innovation (ICONET). The activities of the Entrepreneurship Hub are in sync with UAE’s vision of supporting the growth of 8,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and startups by 2030, according to the Ministry of Economy.
The students and alums can incubate their startups within the AURAK Center of Entrepreneurship. AURAK provides free licenses to students through the RAK Department of Economic Development (DED), in addition to free office space and regular guidance and advice from AURAK mentors.
ICONET enables students to evaluate technical feasibility. In addition, ACE also provides students with a free business plan evaluation service, using the in-house developed AI-enabled innovative evaluation system called SECURE.
Prof. Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim, President of AURAK, said: “Cognizant of the fact that SMEs form the economic backbone of most countries, including the UAE, AURAK has set up the Entrepreneurship Hub to nurture business ideas and incubate startups. We believe today’s budding entrepreneurs need guidance and support to translate their ideas into concrete projects and monetize them. We have the system, experts, and mentors to guide young entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and take them to the market.”
Dr. Tahseen Anwer Arshi, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Associate Professor, School of Business, AURAK, said: “The Entrepreneurship Hub aims to build a vibrant business innovation ecosystem by attracting entrepreneurs and SMEs that have new ideas in different sectors. It also drives our student community to imbibe innovative ideas and develop business acumen, which could help them in their future endeavors and careers.”
The Entrepreneurship Hub is also open to those not belonging to the AURAK community. Non-AURAK members of the community can incubate their startups with ACE with a small fee for the utilization of the ACE facilities but receive the same benefits as the students.
Any student, alums, or community member who wishes to incubate with ACE can apply online through the AURAK website Entrepreneur Registration | Entrepreneur and Innovation (aurak.ac.ae). The applications are assessed and called to make a business pitch to the directors of ACE and ICONET. The business ideas are evaluated on specified criteria, and the prospective entrepreneurs are informed about the decisions.
The Entrepreneurship Hub’s key partner is the RAK DED. However, it occasionally collaborates with other local entrepreneurship-promoting organizations to enhance the users’ experience.
The Entrepreneurship Hub is closely aligned with the UAE’s recently launched Entrepreneurial Nation 2.0 initiative. The first Entrepreneurial Nation initiative was set up in November 2021, with 10 programs backed by digital tools and financing solutions and about Dh20 million ($5.5m) provided by private-sector partners. The program aims to create 20 unicorns, or startups with a valuation of $1 billion and above, by 2031.
The SME sector is a critical player in the UAE economy. According to government data, about 95 percent of all companies in the UAE are SMEs, employing almost 90 percent of the private sector labor force and contributing more than 60 percent to the gross domestic product.