ICT Fund, an initiative of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) that aims to spur the creation of a significant ICT industry in the UAE, revealed the new budget for this year worth AED 481 million. The budget is distributed on investments worth AED460 million while AED21 million are dedicated for operational and investment projects. Based on the budget allocated to national projects related to ICT sector, the ICT Fund has provided funding for a portfolio of projects in education, scientific research, incubation, entrepreneurship and national projects.
The ICT Fund has identified main features of the 2014 projects where the budget covered the four major areas in its scope of work. In the field of Education, until today the ICT Fund has provided funding through its �Betha’ program for more than 350 students since 2007 with a total funds value of AED479 million at 10 universities in the UAE and several international universities where 30 students have graduated till the date. The ICT fund has allocated new scholarships for 2014 including 204 scholarships at the UAE University, Abu Dhabi Polytechnic University, Khalifa University, and University of Dubai in addition to providing 27 scholar grants for studying at international universities abroad.
In the Scientific Research field, the ICT Fund has provided funding for 14 research projects in 3 UAE entities worth AED19 million in 2013. The fund has studied 22 research projects last year, and now is considering funding new research centers for EBTIC center and others such the American University of Sharjah in addition to funding several national projects that will be announced soon such as the Abu Dhabi Science Centre. The fund allocated a budget of up to AED7.5 million for Scientific Research in 2014 and it is in the process of evaluating 7 research projects until today. Most important R’&’D projects funded by the ICT Fund this year include the new research project for EBTIC center that aims to enhance the ICT sector in the United Arab Emirates worth AED70 million in support to launch an innovative and creative program to meet the country’s 2021 vision. EBTIC’s role is to create research projects that are applicable in the ICT sector. It was created by Khalifa University, Emirates Telecommunication Corporation (Etisalat) and British Telecommunications. The center has so far registered 11 patents and has published 90 research and workshop papers in international conferences.
Regarding Incubation and Entrepreneurship, the ICT Fund received 4 funding applications for national’s small projects in 2013. Currently the Fund is assessing 3 requests for funding and will be announcing in the coming weeks the financing of the first small project, which is a mobile application in collaboration with one of the incubators in the country. The Fund has allocated a budget of up to AED7 million for setting up a related incubator in 2014.
In the National Projects area, ICT Fund has invested about AED175 million on several national projects last year, including Ankabut, Mohammad Bin Rashid Smart Learning Program, and the Smart Government initiative. The most important projects funded by the ICT Fund this year include the funding for Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Program with AED98 million to cover the continuous needs in 123 schools that will be integrated in the program. The recent collaboration between the two parties has initiated the practical phase in 123 schools and created 2,501 digital classes, 1,910 homework sent via emails to students at home, 679,173 educational activities between students and their instructors at schools, 442 classes prepared with advanced technological equipment, 11,548 tablets distributed on students, and 1,357 laptops distributed to teachers.
“Driving the strategic development of the ICT sector requires creating a successful and convenient environment for education, research and development, besides encouraging investment in national projects. It is necessary for us to provide the required funding to establishing the appropriate infrastructure for research and development with a special focus on technical innovation centres. In addition to that, we are aiming to build a learning environment that is fit for our digital era that interferes in every aspect of today’s life for our people, nation and community,” commented Dr. Abdulqader Al Khayat, the ICT Fund Chairman of Board of Trustees.
On his part, Eng. Omar Mohammed Al Mahmoud, Acting CEO of ICT Fund, has assured that they are still committed to the UAE society and Emirati youth in enabling them to achieve the strategic objectives of knowledge-based economy, which reflects the UAE’s priorities in supporting education, research and development and national projects that are based on creativity and innovation elements.
Source : WAM News Agency for United Arab Emirates