Geotech Innovation Program

Article

GEOTECH INNOVATION PROGRAM

KRYPTO LABS

MASDAR CITY,

ABU DHABI

DATE: 03/10/2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This paper outlines how the GeoTech Innovation Program by the UAE Space Agency (UAESA)  and in Partnership with Krypto Labs will address real value to the start-up’s scene in UAE. The paper also includes detailed project goals and assumptions. The Program is start-up-built process that is used to grow successful, sustainable ventures that will contribute to the country’s innovation-based and knowledge-share status. The findings show that the incubated start-ups in the paper were aligned to generally-accepted-performance-standards but that there is room for improvement in market alignment, incubate compliance and others. Nowadays organizations are especially challenged by changes in technology and global competition. Innovation and ability to develop new products are the keys to survive, and changes in product development processes seems necessary (Dougherty&Hardy 1996).

Background

Today entrepreneurship and business incubators are powerful tools in developing and developed country (Kelley, Singer, & Herrington 2016). For countries, the importance of entrepreneurship is connected to productivity increase and unemployment reduction rates, particularly among the young youths. Business incubators are among government initiatives to stimulate and support economic growth by promoting job creation, and innovation & development of businesses. As a result, several campaigns, initiatives and support programs have been designed to boost entrepreneurship amongst youth. The paper discusses the business incubation model of Krypto Labs which is based in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi and the Government Sponsor; the UAE Space Agency, whom together built this program.

Incubation can help start-ups to survive and grow during their early stage/years, and therefore can play a key role in the economic development of a community or region. In developing countries, including UAE and other GCC member states, business incubators are valuable in helping to develop local economies, promote technology transfer, create new start-ups and generate new jobs.

Anticipated Outcomes

The GeoTech Innovation Program focuses on entrepreneurs with innovate business ideas. As words of Peter Drucker (1985) ‘Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or service’. As Entrepreneurship has different stages in practice - the first is the new start-up venture in which the entrepreneur come with something new and create a new market space for themselves. It is at this stage that the new start-ups are most vulnerable and where incubators play a critical role. During the program Krypto Labs supports start-ups with a safe environment to establish, grow & self-sustain their businesses.

The outcome from the incubation program to the start-ups would likely be:

    • To serve sustainable development in urban planning and land management, disaster and crises management and costal border security in various ways.
    • Start-ups (towards the end of the program) to learn how to run a business by taking ownership of different tasks from marketing, accounting and other related matters.
    • Start-ups to pitch their ideas and present their PoCs at a Pitch Day event in Krypto Labs premises to a group of investors, potential clients, and business leaders from the public and private sectors.
    • Startups to introduce technologies which will relatively be new to the market, and will need education to the public, focusing on using Satellite data and processing technology to a new level and help various different entities across the UAE with initiatives that could realign integrate those technologies it in the market, through innovation strategies.
    • Start-ups to get a chance to pitch & connect with potential investors and clients that would potentially help them acquire their potential first adaptors.

In addition, the program will provide the incubatees with: 1) advisors & industry experts, 2) planning activities for start-ups, 3) coaching & mentorship opportunities, 3) access to finance, 4) fully equipped co-working space, along with resources and door-opening services and; 5) training and networking.

Methodology/Literature Review

Using standard Project Management method, this paper presents the discussion and analysis of the GeoTech Innovation Program with a view to understand the involvement of business incubators by the UAE Space Agency and the program overall.

The authors of this paper are professions with experience and involvement in this program, providing key foundations to the paper. The findings of this research present guidelines and contribute useful information to evaluate the program as we go along and for similar upcoming incubation programs. This paper highlights development of successful start-ups and evaluate it.

Justification

Krypto Labs designed an innovation program that caters to the needs of the UAESA, which seek to foster innovation in the space industry through a partner. The UAESA identified a need for creative out-of-the-box solutions that can improve the environment by using satellite data and process it to feed smart applications, that are developed under three categories: 1) urban and rural land management, 2) crisis and disaster management, and; 3) coastal border security.

Objective

Consequently, countries around the globe and UAE have committed to promote entrepreneurship at national levels. Many educational institutions have been challenged to take an active role in inculcating the entrepreneurial spirit amongst the youth by introducing entrepreneurship programs and related activities. Through this program we will be able to educate them and provide hands-on-experience where universities are given one-on-one sessions about the program and are asked to apply to the program. The universities involvement in start-up support is critical and very few universities can be engaged and offer entrepreneurship knowledge to their students. Programs like this help in speedy development and commercialization and exit of start-ups. Therefore, minimizing the risks of failure which are associated with the start-ups. The idea behind it is to enable the new start-ups to grow quickly and not just nurture, but to support and inject resources needed to new start-ups that have high growth potential (Hannon, 2004). In addition, the aim is to have at least one Emirati in each group while applying to the program.

Impact

Over the incubation phase the selected start-ups limited to 4-6-month period, basically are intended to jump-start a business and then kick them out of the nest to grow and self-sustain their new start-ups.

The overall impact through the program:

  1. Supporting economic development by creating new jobs.
  2. Accelerating the modernization & diversification of the region’s innovation-based and knowledge-share economy.
  3. Fostering and supporting enterprises that create the best environment for businesses to start-ups.
  4. Investing long-term time & effort to strengthen the relationships between academia and industry to the start-ups.
  5. Providing networking opportunities between academia and industry to collaborate for mutual benefit to the start-ups.
  6. Commercializing knowledge and building relationships that add value to the economy.
  7. Encouraging Emiratis in particular, and other nationals to become entrepreneurs.
  8. Increase network over different industries & academia.
  9. Conduct similar activities & MOU with academia.

BUSINESS CASE ANALYSIS TEAM

The following leads comprise the business case analysis team. They are responsible for the analysis and creation of the GeoTech Innovation Program project paper.

Role

Description

Name/Title

Executive Sponsor

Provide executive support for the project

Dr. Fatima Al Aydaroos, Project Manager (UAESA)

Project Director

Provide all high-level directions of the project

Anas Zeineddine, Executive Director (Krypto Labs)

Technology Lead

Provides all technology support for the project

Dr. Mohammad Adnan, R&D Scientist (Krypto Labs)

Project Manager

Manages the business case and project team

Hanan Khaldi, Project Manager (Krypto Labs)

Project & Tech Support

Provides all software and project support

Fatima Abdulla, Project Lead (Krypto Labs)

PROBLEM DEFINITION

Problem Statement

Various Space Agencies worldwide discovered how satellite data can be used to capture endless possibilities that individuals could create in improving the environment, sustainable development and other untapped areas. This Satellite data is an open source to the public in various countries now as to make use of them in best possible way. Added advantage is that the data is relatively easy to acquire, and free for public to access. Therefore; the UAE Space Agency approached Krypto Labs to plan and develop this program, to serve as a business incubator to the selected start-ups. This customized incubation program’s aim is to support the development and growth of the selected teams to create businesses, with an increased success rate for start-up building, within a timely and cost-efficient business establishment. This will serve the dual advantage of propelling growth in the space sector while also benefiting the public sector enterprises.

Following is the example of satellite images in use for policy making and predicting uncertainties in potentially hazardous areas and loss to human lives.

‘In 2017 at least 400 people died in Freetown after torrential rains set off a mudslide. Using images from NASA’s Landsat and the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite programs, overlaid with census and other data, World Bank researchers demonstrated how the city’s haphazard development bore some blame for the loss of life.’ Researchers with the bank now use satellite data to create policy recommendations for clients such as officials from developing nations and urban planners.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-07-26/all-the-things-satellites-can-now-see-from-space

Organizational Impact

The GeoTech Innovation Program will impact the organizational level for involved parties. The pioneering program will introduce an innovative way to tackle issues. While acquiring solutions tend to be a process led by the procurement department, the UAESA took a new endeavor to foster the creation of startups, whom will develop their solutions and build business models that are viable, market ready, and scalable. This initiative is one of a kind, where the UAESA in partnership with Krypto Labs is launching a program targeting entrepreneurs, supporting them to start their businesses. Various outcomes can result from this, as in creating new jobs for skilled individuals who are game changers, diversifying industries and introducing new products. The UAESA and Krypto Labs invited direct and indirect related entities from both public and private sectors to pitch the program to, seeking their involvement, typically from the entities that can add value to the program, this will draw their attention to a new methodology and approach in integrating entrepreneurship and innovation in the work place. The GeoTech Innovation Program is an innovative model to the academia sector as well, which will encourage Phd students and university professionals to consider new paths which might commercialize their theses.

Incubation Migration

The GeoTech Innovation Program implementation plan starts with scouting and reach out to entrepreneurs, where top ranked applicants go through three phases of filtering to select the finalists. The incubation program is a four-stage one, starts with “research and build”, “model validate and acquire”, “invest and grow”, and finishes with “grow” phase which will solely focus on growth plans and strategies. The program will end by a pitch event, connecting startups to business investors, mentors, potential client, and provide them with media exposure. The program has a follow up plan, where the UAESA and Krypto Labs will remain in assistant to the startups, in terms of growth and door-opening services.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

The project aims at transforming the innovative ideas through incubation into successful startups. Various innovative ideas were evaluated before selecting start-ups to join the incubation program. The following sections consist of program description, performance criteria, constraints and major milestones. As the project is approved and moves forward, each of these components will be expanded to include a greater level of detail in working towards the project plan.

Project Description

The GeoTech Innovation Program aims at finding out-of-the-box innovative ideas to solve problems that falls under the following categories: (a) Urban & Rural Land Management, (b) Disaster and Crises Management, and, (c) Coastal Border Security using satellite images. The project requires scouting to regional and international potential applicants, and offline roadshows across the UAE educational institutes to spread the word about the program. The selection process involves Krypto Labs, the UAESA and other industry experts as part of jury committee members that select the top start-ups. The selected start-ups are to be part of the incubation program, which includes in-house training, mentorship and other developing activities which will boost the entrepreneurs’ journeys and transform their business ideas into start-ups.

Goals and Objectives

This section supports several goals and objectives that are expected out of this program:

Business Goal/Objective

Description

Quality mentorship

To match the incubatees and any applicant entrepreneur to quality mentors to support them within their areas of expertise. The incubatees are given a priority.

Start-ups satisfaction

The incubatees have set a series of expectations out of the incubation program, meeting these expectations on both the personal aspect as an entrepreneur, and on the professional aspect as a startup founder is key to the success of the program. It will also highlight areas of potential improvement and/or changes to take place.

Product with one customer or client at a minimum

The general and main goal is to graduate three registered companies that have a product, securing one customer or client, in confirmation on product and market validation and penetration strategies.

Achieve agreed key milestones

To incubate innovative ideas solving an issue in the three categories (urban and rural land management, disaster and crisis management, and coastal border security), to have Emirati co-founder(s), and to use satellite data as a feed to the smart applications.

Market Validation

To get users feedback and acceptance by testing the PoC with potential users. It helps in analyzing if the product is needed or not and how it can be improved further.

Meet timeline

The timeline of the project overall, and of the incubation program.

Meet budget’s limitations

Not to exceed the agreed budget as in the signed contract.

Mitigate any potential risk

To follow the risk-mitigation plan.

Successful knowledge transfer

To successfully transfer the project knowledge to the UAESA towards the end of the project.

Project Performance

The following table lists the key processes, or services and their anticipated program outcomes in measuring the performance of the project.

Key Resource/Process/Service

Performance Measure

Business & milestones plans and reports

Start-ups to draft business plan, marketing & sales plans, technical report and other reports to understand what and how they would be growing their start-ups.

Engagement & participation

Start-ups would be judged based on their participation and engagement with the tasks assigned to them, and attendance to the meetings, workshops and events designed for them. 

Clients impression & feedback

First potential clients’ impression and comments on the tested products before the launch. And follow up, in a well monitored launch strategy, to measure the clients’ feedback.

Stakeholders feedback

Continuous comments and feedback gathering from all stakeholders on the key milestones’ agenda.

Team performance overall

Team evaluation during the incubation program, also minding the progress showed during it, and the areas of improvement, if any.

Product performance & outlook

The product’s performance from a technical view, as in user experience and UI, and the product performance as in meeting its functional expectations.

Value proposition

The product’s added value to be clear and in use.

Exceeding the expectations

Skills and knowledge acquired among the program, that was not within its prime goal.

Project Assumptions

The following assumptions apply to the project. As project planning begins and more assumptions are identified, they will be added accordingly.

  • The three start-ups to cover innovation perspective.
  • Assume product functionalities, which customers end up liking.
  • Front-end User Interface has to be simple and eye catchy.
  • At least one back-end function completed and running.

Project Constraints

The following constraints are expected. As the project develops more constraints will be identified, and added accordingly.

  • The start-ups don’t have the know-how of building start-ups.
  • As both start-ups are universities professors there are many gaps with the business aspect to their products, such as how customers and industries work.
  • Finding quality and committed mentors is slightly challenging.
  • Start-ups don’t have a clear plan and vision.

Major Project Milestones

The following are expected the major project milestones.  As the project planning moves forward and the schedule is developed, the milestones and their target completion dates will be modified, adjusted, and finalized as necessary to establish the baseline schedule.

Milestones/Deliverables 

 Target Date

Project Charter

12/09/2018

Project Plan Review and Completion

Monthly

Project Kickoff

03/09/2018

Open Application

15/10/2018

Scouting & Marketing

15/10/2018-07/01/2019

Roadshows

15/10/2018-07/01/2019

Close Application Link

07/01/2019

Selection – Juries Panel

10/01/2019

Final Selection – UAESA & KL

15/01/2019

Signing Ceremony with selected start-ups

20/01/2019

Winners Announcement – Press Release

23/01/2019

Incubation Program Start

28/01/2019

Phase I Complete

28/02/2019

Phase II Complete

28/03/2019

Phase III Complete

28/04/2019

Phase IV Complete

28/05/2019

Pitch Day

TBD June 2019

Closeout/Project Completion

31/07/2019

STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT

The GeoTech Innovation Program is in direct support of several strategic agendas and initiatives to the UAESA & Krypto Labs such as the National Space Strategy 2030, the UAE National Innovation Strategy, the Environment Vision 2030, the Start-up Initiatives, and other related plans of aligned public entities, by directly or indirectly supporting this strategic initiatives and goals. The incubation program focuses to solve one of the pain points that exists but unknown and help entrepreneurs’ journeys to get smooth and better.

Local economic development, urban industrial regeneration, venture creation, technology transfer, innovation and its commercialization, increase new firm formation, creation of new and sustainable jobs, development of fast track companies, and reduce failure rate of new companies and opportunities.

 

 

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