Plexal has launched the Rapid Innovation Accelerator today in partnership with Omani innovation development company AL JABR. This virtual-first, six-week programme will connect digital innovators in the UK with counterparts in Oman to help them develop technology-led solutions to the local challenges created by Covid-19.
Plexal’s innovation team has analysed the response to the pandemic from UK startups, as well as the impact of Covid-19 on Omani society and businesses, to design the programme. We’ve selected mentors from across the UK to support Omani entrepreneurs through a bespoke education programme that includes workshops and mentoring.
Imperial College London’s Centre for Financial Technology, RIYADA (an SME development authority in Oman) and Oman’s Ministry of Transport, Communications & Information Technology are strategic programme partners that will help Plexal and AL JABR deliver the course content.
The aim of the accelerator is to support entrepreneurs to develop their early-stage digital solutions that enable more businesses to transition and thrive, enable all students in Oman to learn virtually and support virtual communities. The programme recognises that the UK innovation community has stepped up during the pandemic in these three areas in particular, using technology to enable communities, education providers and businesses to pivot, continue to operate or find new markets and audiences.
Mentors have been chosen from across the UK’s startup, academic and business ecosystem and include David Ripert, co–founder and CEO of Poplar Studio, Helene Panzarino, rapid innovation programme director at the Centre for Financial Technology, Imperial College London, and many more. Omani startups taking part include online livestock marketplace Tharwa Oman, online virtual community platform Muscateer and Oclick, an online freelance marketplace.
The programme will include a virtual demo day on 14 March. Learn more and meet our mentors at plexal.com/rapid-innovation-accelerator
The Rapid Innovation Accelerator has the support of the British Embassy in Muscat and is spearheaded by the UK Oman Digital Hub. The hub aims to establish the UK as digital partner for Oman and build a digital ecosystem across Oman. It appointed Plexal to deliver this cross-border programme in recognition of the opportunity for innovation hubs to share knowledge and expertise. As well as supporting Omani innovators, the UK mentors will gain connections in Oman – a country that is committed to growing its technology ecosystem and collaborating with international hubs under the leadership of Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said.
The full list of Omani startups taking part in the Rapid Innovation Accelerator is:
Andrew Roughan, managing director of Plexal, commented:
“Economies and communities across the world are facing similar challenges created by the pandemic, and it’s more important than ever that innovation hubs collaborate and share knowledge. Oman has a thriving startup community, and we’re excited to unite the brightest minds from the UK’s academic and business ecosystem to support Omani startups with developing their solutions. Our virtual-first accelerator demonstrates the sort of borderless collaboration we need more of, and Plexal’s intention is to continue working in this way with many more hubs around the world.”
Henry Howard, head of the UK Oman Digital Hub, commented:
“Over the last year Covid-19 has impacted lives and businesses all over the world. On top of this Oman has faced additional economic challenges due to fluctuations in the price of oil. But with these challenges comes opportunities. Omanis are continually finding digital solutions to everyday problems, and the global crisis has accelerated this trend. We are really excited by the Rapid Innovation Accelerator project and to be working with Plexal, Imperial Collage London and local partner AL JABR. Together, we aim to help the budding start up ecosystem overcome challenges and develop resilient solutions.”
Mohammed Al Wahaibi, CEO of Al JABR, commented: “The past year has shown us more than ever how important startups are in pushing things forward. How can a single idea – if supported – solve a major problem? During the pandemic, we have witnessed how much we have in common across the world. We shared similar challenges. And now, we must learn how to solve them together. We are proud of the partnership with the UK-Oman Digital Hub, Plexal and Imperial College London to bring together mentors and supporters to elevate Omani startups through developing the Rapid Innovation Accelerator program. We have a growing startup ecosystem, and the Rapid Innovation Accelerator program is here to reinforce and boost this growth that we at AL JABR are committed to.”
Professor Deeph Chana from Imperial College London, commented: “As encapsulated in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals the world faces numerous challenges ranging from climate change, the eradication of poverty, access to education and establishing secure and resilient societies. Technologists and innovators will play a crucial role in solving these problems with start-ups providing the driving force for the imaginative solutions of tomorrow. Bringing together a partnership in innovation excellence from Oman and the UK provides the opportunity to demonstrate the value of international collaboration and how the best conditions for accelerating progress can be established and sustained”