The Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZ) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced their selection of 12 startups to join the inaugural cohort of the MIT DesignX Dubai Accelerator (MDXB), which was launched last September in a bid to accelerate the growth of innovative projects to address the most pressing global challenges in urban environment, such as water, climate, food security, and energy.

These companies will develop their businesses as they progress through a rigorous curriculum developed by MIT and tested throughout the world. It will consist of workshops, followed by an intensive month of design and businesses classes, at the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec) in Dubai Silicon Oasis, till February 2024. The startups will also receive mentorship from local businesses and MIT alumni as well as being assisted by MIT student interns.
William Chappell, Chief Financial Officer of DIEZ, said: “We are proud to welcome the first cohort of startups and provide them with a high-quality workspace that matches their ambition. These teams are leveraging technology to provide intelligence and solutions to environmental and business problems. We want to create an ecosystem of technology and sustainability entrepreneurs in Dubai who will find innovative solutions to our most pressing problems and share them with the world.”

Gilad Rosenzweig, Executive Director of DesignX at the MIT School of Architecture & Planning said: “I have been truly astounded by the depth of entrepreneurial talent in the UAE. We have selected 12 of the most inspiring startups that we encountered, and I am excited to see how their diverse perspectives develop in the MDXB process and how the teams refine their brilliant sustainable and technological ideas with the help of our staff and mentors.”

The selected startups share a strong focus on sustainability and technology. Their business ideas include extracting water from air, innovative ideas for cooling data centers, recycling initiatives, and air pollution reduction. They are – ActDivate, connecting disparate data sources using its proprietary Movement Intelligence™ engine; Airvi, eradicating vehicular congestion and reducing air pollution through an adaptive and dynamic AI platform; FUSE, electrifying commercial vehicles; Othalo, harnessing recycled plastic waste to produce robust construction materials for affordable housing; Project UltraCool, proposing a cost-effective and sustainable solution for the thermal management of data centers; Reclusters, transforming solid medical waste into reusable recycled products; Regeny, offering an EV ecosystem platform; Smartzi, an IoT management platform; Sustainability Kiosk, a specialized platform that connects buyers and sellers of sustainable solutions in the hospitality industry; Suswater, constructing a cutting-edge system capable of generating water directly from the air; Tile Green, transforming low-value and unrecyclable plastic waste into over 40 building materials with a patented technology; and The Surpluss, a climate tech operator that specializes in creating sustainable industrial ecosystems through digital transformation.

Moreover, DIEZ has collaborated with The Surpluss, one of the selected startups in the accelerator to establish a virtual sustainability cluster for DSO-based businesses, with the aim of developing a unique blueprint of committed and high performing business communities that engage in climate action.

As a first step, DIEZ has chosen 1,000 companies to join the cluster and empower its top businesses to activate their sustainability transition. They will have access to The Surpluss platform, where they can share and exchange their surplus resources for profit, customized training sessions, and additional supporting resources such as inauguration into the Race to Zero (the UN-backed campaign for net zero), a business emissions calculator, and opportunities for high level networking and access to members-only events.

The cluster will be open to the broader DSO business community and subsequently, to the public to reinforce the high-tech park’s commitment to global excellence and a first mover in providing an opportunity for supercharging businesses towards sustainability transformation.

Commenting on the collaboration, William Chappell said: “This partnership underscores our dedication to advancing research and development in sustainability across verticals, aligning with the UAE’s sustainability agenda. Through integrating forward-thinking practices and empowering our top businesses through the sustainability cluster, with access to The Surpluss, we aim to support impactful climate-centric businesses with cutting-edge solutions, contributing to the UAE’s vision of sustainable innovation and global environmental stewardship, especially as the nation prepares to host the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).”

For her part, Rana Hajirasouli, Founder of The Surpluss, said: “We are incredibly honoured to embark on this journey with DIEZ. They are setting the tone of sustainability excellence that can provide a real-life case study of the benefits and possibilities when the private and public sector work together to accomplish climate goals by accelerating digitization. Moreover, this reinforces UAE’s global position as a first mover on sustainable innovation in practice.”