In May 2020, Plug and Play and the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulatory body of the healthcare sector at the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, formed a partnership to establish a healthcare startup accelerator (“Health Plug and Play MENA”) at the heart of Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, Hub71, to support their growth into the region, and improve the quality of healthcare through the implementation of technology solutions.
With the second cohort of the Abu Dhabi Healthtech Accelerator Program set to kick off in April 2021, Plug and Play is excited to announce a suite of new partnerships to create greater focus and lasting impact to digital transformation and real business value for exceptional technology startups meeting real market needs.
As part of Plug and Play’s renewed commitment to maintain and scale its GCC HQ in Abu Dhabi for another three years in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), they are eager to set a new standard for tech ecosystem development through industry-focused partnerships, with a wider Emirate-level alignment.
At the grassroots level, a newly formed Abu Dhabi Health Innovation Board constituted by major players in the healthcare sector such as DoH, National Health Insurance Company – Daman, Etisalat, UEMedical, and Philips, are defining the most pressing tech focus areas for 2021 to enable Plug and Play to find and accelerate tech startups with the most likely to scale and make a real impact on the quality and access to healthcare in the MENA region. Once the Board is finalized by early 2021, these industry innovators will jointly explore new and better ways to bring digital health transformation and startup collaborations to life through roundtable discussions and dedicated working groups that will aim to tackle the challenges standing in the way of innovation and address them.
At the Emirate level, Plug and Play is proud to leverage its new Strategic Partnership with ADIO to define and align synergies across sectors such as healthcare and work alongside key industry leaders to further develop Abu Dhabi as a global and regional hub for innovation. As part of its mandate to support private sector investment in Abu Dhabi, ADIO supports innovative companies across high-growth sectors, including those in the healthcare and biopharma sector.
Last year, the first cohort of accelerated startups were supported to test and deploy cutting-edge technology solutions to support the community and address the COVID-19 challenges from telemedicine to e-triage, remote monitoring, and innovative diagnostics solutions. The accelerator provided these selected innovators a soft-landing and accessible platform to explore collaborations with local hospitals, health insurers, and industry players to help them develop and scale their solutions.
The results of this accelerator program branded as the “Alliance to Fight COVID-19” were significant as startups had the opportunity to have over 45 meetings with key stakeholders that led to the execution of over 20 pilot projects with corporations and government entities. Five of these pilots led to commercialization, such as the one between Austria-based digital health startup, Medicus AI, and ETIHAD Airways to provide a COVID-19 assessment tool that was used by over 22,000 passengers.
This year’s program will continue to provide support to key players across the healthcare value chain to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.
H.E Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, Undersecretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, commented: “The covid-19 pandemic has placed unparalleled demands on the global healthcare system, however, the Abu Dhabi healthcare system has vividly demonstrated its resilience and ability to adapt to these unprecedented challenges bring innovations to life and accelerate their availability in the local market in record time. This was evident through the “Alliance to Fight COVID-19”, which has risen to the challenge and brought together some of the best start-ups from across the globe to collaborate in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic across the region. As the challenge remains, further strengthening the capabilities of the innovation system in the sector is an essential element in facing the pandemic and preparing for a better future.”
His Excellency added: “The health and safety of our patients are of utmost importance. Start-ups have a vital role to play in making a positive impact in Abu Dhabi by finding creative solutions to complex issues. We look forward to working together with Plug and Play and key players in the sector in this years’ program to identify and accelerate innovations and take the healthcare sector to new heights.”
“We are proud to be part of an initiative that is fostering technology innovation to improve future healthcare service provision. Our core mission at Daman is to ensure a healthy future for the Nation through adopting innovative solutions that drive sustainable access to quality healthcare,” said Hamad Al Mehyas, Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Company – Daman.
“The Global pandemic has fast-tracked the adoption of smart solutions and technology innovation is now driving the future of the insurance industry. As a national company ourselves, it is imperative that we support, develop and guide today’s homegrown innovators and businesses in their quest to provide smart solutions for the future that will contribute to improving healthcare services across the UAE. New technology solutions will allow the healthcare providers to continuously enhance operational efficiencies and therefore our customer’s experience. We look forward to driving the innovation agenda forward with other major players supporting the Nation’s healthy future.”
“We at Etisalat are committed to supporting the health sector, both governments, and enterprises, in their digital transformation journey. Etisalat has a compelling portfolio of digital healthcare platforms that range from cloud-based electronic health records and Enterprise AI medical imaging to telehealth and remote monitoring aimed at meeting the needs of a wide market segment from small clinics to large-scale hospitals,” said Abdulla Ebrahim Al Ahmed, Senior Vice President, Government Sales, Etisalat.
Al Ahmed added that “Etisalat is leveraging on its global ecosystem of technology partners to bring state-of-the-art digital solutions for the health sector at affordable pricing, focusing on increasing user-adoption and enhancing the patient experience. Through product and process innovation, Etisalat is committed to reducing barriers the health sector may face during its digital transformation journey. This year, Etisalat is focusing on bringing the next generation of connected and remote health technologies, as well as medical knowledge platform that will enable healthcare professionals and students of Abu Dhabi to access world-class education, content, and opportunities for professional development, by partnering with the Department of Health and Plug and Play with its global innovation ecosystem.”
“We are excited to collaborate with key partners to shape the future of our region’s healthcare system, which will be even more robust and flexible than it is today,” said Marc Zora, District Leader, Gulf and Levant, Philips. “During this global pandemic, we at Philips have mobilized our efforts to support health systems worldwide, through the use of our solutions and the power of technology. Our end-to-end solutions such as telehealth and precision diagnosis optimize workflows, leverage clinical capabilities, and integrate data. Our goal is to help provide value-based care as part of daily practice through our meaningful innovations, meeting the demands of the ‘quadruple aim’: enhancing patient and staff experience, improving health outcomes, and lowering the cost of care. Together, we can innovate new ways of working and break down the barriers standing in the way of delivering seamless care.”
“At the heart of Abu Dhabi’s vision to be a regional leader in the healthcare sector, is a drive to nurture next-gen innovation that paves the way for a new era of treatments and care,” said H.E. Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO. “ADIO’s partnership with Plug and Play will boost support for transformative HealthTechstartups doing essential work that benefits us all. We understand that these companies require agility and nimbleness, and we are fully committed to helping them realize the potential of their ideas in Abu Dhabi.”
“UEMedical has been engaging with Plug and Play for over a year now and we are very excited to join this initiative spearheaded by the DoH to represent healthcare providers in the UAE and work closely with global and regional start-ups to address any challenges, and offer a superior, digitally-enabled healthcare service to our patients across our facilities in the UAE including Danat Al Emarat Hospital, HealthPlus Network of Specialty Centers, HealthPlus Fertility, and Moorfields Eye Hospital Abu Dhabi,” Mr. Majd Abu Zant, Acting Chief Executive Officer of United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical).
Mr. Abu Zant added, “As an integrated healthcare provider, we aim to help transform the way healthcare is delivered by using innovation and research to create sustainable solutions and programs that could be executed across the Emirate. I believe this joint collaboration embeds a culture of innovation amongst diverse institutions, technology leaders, innovation-driven enterprises, governmental entities, and of course healthcare providers. Such collaborations are aimed at driving value across the ecosystem and creating practical solutions to real challenges that we face each day, even more so during the pandemic.”