The HCT Startup Development Programme is shaping students into entrepreneurs

The HCT Startup Development Programme is shaping students into entrepreneurs 

The HCT initiative graduated its first batch of entrepreneurs earlier this year.

Nicola Bettio, Executive Director, Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, shares more on the programme and HTC’s efforts to support entrepreneurs across the nation.

The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) is the UAE’s largest applied higher educational institution, and the nation’s first approved university economic free zone, empowering it to graduate companies in alignment with the directives of the UAE’s leadership.

The HCT InnCuVation Spaces (in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, and Sharjah campuses), inaugurated in March 2019, are high-tech innovation and entrepreneurial incubators supporting students and faculty in undertaking innovative and entrepreneurial ventures. The name “InnCuVation Space” itself expresses the breadth of activities that take place in such centers - Innovation, Incubation, and Venturing.

The institution is also known for its HCT Startup Development Programme, which since being launched in 2019, has established 108 startups and engaged 2,316 students. Students occupy 50 per cent of the top management of these companies. 

The Programme graduated its first batch of entrepreneurs earlier this year.



The HCT Startup Development Program focuses on the creation of sustainable businesses launched by Emirati students in a vast range of industries and sectors. We privilege technology-based business models, but we do not neglect any robust and scalable startups in less tech-intensive sectors, such as fashion, media, e-commerce, and beyond.Nicola Bettio HCT UAE

HCT offers a comprehensive program catered to the needs of our student entrepreneurs’ audience. This program is one of the largest in the UAE and the region and involves more than 1,400 students per year and facilitates the launch of more than 100 startups on an annual basis. Since July 2020, we have successfully launched around 100 startups across the UAE, 15 of which from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

A great part of our program is focused on the establishment of solid networking and the search for commercial and other cooperation opportunities with the private sectors and government institutions. We have a special post-Accelerator program to support “growth/scale up” startups to develop commercially and boost their sales. In addition we partner with organizations such Young Arab Leaders or the Emirates Angels Investors Association to have our startups benefit from highly qualified mentoring and angel investing.


Learn more about the diverse initiatives supporting SMEs in Abu Dhabi by exploring the Hub’s Interactive Ecosystem Map or by downloading the full Ecosystem Map Out Report.

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