MENA's first health startup accelerator to open in Abu Dhabi
Priya Wadhwa
10x Industry

MENA's first health startup accelerator to open in Abu Dhabi

Plug and Play partners with DOH Abu Dhabi to attract global healthcare startups.

Plug and Play ADGM and the Department of Health Abu Dhabi have partnered to launch MENA’s first healthcare startup in Abu Dhabi.

Valentina La Noce, Program & Client Manager at Plug and Play Middle East, told SME10X that the “healthcare innovation program will officially start in March 2020 with a 'Selection Day' event where international and regional startups will pitch their solutions and then be voted to participate in the program by healthcare corporate partners.”

Applications for health startups will be open online through their website. However, she said that they “primarily [focus] on proactive sourcing through [their] international network for technology companies that match the needs and technology 'pain points' of [their] corporate partners.”

Keeping in line with the UAE’s goals to become the medical tourism hub in the Middle East, Plug and Play’s healthcare accelerator comes at the right time to boost the region’s medical sector. Previously, we’ve seen healthtech startups gain traction in the region, such as Altibbi, Okadoc, and Vezeeta.

HealthTech is a growing sector, with an annual value expected to reach $11 billion by 2021, as per a report from Middle East Medical Devices and Diagnostics.

“Plug and Play's innovation platforms and accelerator programs are shaped by the needs and requirements of its corporate partners. Plug and Play meets with each healthcare partner, discusses their innovation roadmaps and objectives, and sources technologies accordingly for the program, which runs over a 6-month period on an annual basis,” explained Valentina.

Plug and Play will namely focus on:

  1. Sourcing and attracting technologies both internationally and regionally to the UAE to be tested and implemented in collaboration with Department of Health Abu Dhabi,

  2. Supporting Abu Dhabi and the UAE's healthcare ecosystem, its innovation and growth, and

  3. Investing in startups founded in either the region or the UAE, further supporting MENA's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“The platform is open to all players in the healthcare ecosystem, from hospitals and clinics to pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, and supports Abu Dhabi's vision to diversify its economy for future generations.”
Valentina La Noce, Program & Client Manager at Plug and Play Middle East

This move by the Silicon Valley accelerator comes after the success of two of its accelerators in Abu Dhabi since it started operations in Q3 2018: FinTech accelerator in partnership with ADGM and Travel & Hospitality accelerator in partnership with Etihad Airways and Miral.

Plug and Play ADGM is aiming to attract 24-36 global healthcare startups to Abu Dhabi in the coming two years.