Sharjah innovation Park unveils signing of first investment deals under Sharjah Angel Investors Network (SAIN)
The Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation Park (SRTI Park) has announced the signing of the first investment deals under the Sharjah Angel Investors Network (SAIN) between the Emirati company Mohamed Hilal Group and the VirtuE R&D, a Spanish company operating in SRTI Park and is specialized in the development of AI application for psychology.
According to the agreement, Mohamed Hilal Group will help expand the scope of work of the VirtuE R&D to include new markets outside the UAE. The collaboration also includes launching an AI-based scientific research hub that focuses on Equine‐assisted therapy and developing game-based digital programs to enhance mental and psychological health and to promote a more self-conscious society. This is the first such technology investment for Mohamed Hilal Group.
Commenting on the deal, Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, said: “We are pleased to see such kind of strategic partnerships under the umbrella of Sharjah Angel Investors Network (SAIN) between one of SRTI Park-headquartered large investment groups, Mohamed Hilal Group, and the Spanish company VirtuE R&D which is also operating in the SRTI Park.”
Al Mahmoudi added: “This is yet another testament to investors’ confidence in the SRTI Park and the startups operating in it, where the SAIN helps support entrepreneurs in the emerging technologies field through the development of global economic groupings in the UAE in the fields of innovation, creativity, and design and the provision of capital in early stages to turn the idea into functioning business, making the local companies among the best in the world in technology and advanced services.”
He further explained that SAIN helps company owners receive investments and negotiate the terms of each deal by joining the business accelerator, preparing their financial statements, and submitting their ideas to the Angel Investors Network, while in the case of startups, the companies are selected according to certain conditions set by the SRTI Park and within a business accelerator program that is created for a specific period of time.
Al Mahmoudi went on to say: “Such type of financing is a dream for many emerging projects to obtain the consent of an angel investor. Although this type of financing does not require much time compared to other financing alternatives, those investors are very careful in providing financial contribution and are trying to pick up emerging projects that provide revolutionary or unique technological solutions or those companies that are expected to have a large user base. This is what we are looking for at SAIN, which was launched in late December, and we are working hard to provide investors with companies that have such future advantages.
For his part, Mohamed Hilal, CEO of Mohamed Hilal Group, said: “Our new investment clearly reflects our commitment to attracting quality investments, especially in future sectors, owing to the importance of the healthcare and psychology in maintaining the solidness of our community and economy, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of harnessing modern technology to maintain our physical and mental health, while the startups have proven to be the spearhead in technical investments that support the economy and humanity.
“We aspire that the value of the new Spanish company, with which our group has signed a 4-year investment agreement, to reach AED 3-4 billion and to go global through the Emirate of Sharjah,” said Hilal, adding that the Group focuses on investing in sectors that support the individual’s production and his moral energy to improve his productivity. This stems from the fact that emotion is the oil of the future and that AI is its engine.
Hilal revealed that the Group will launch soon a bunch of new investments in the technology field, explaining that the decision on investing in a digital solutions company for mental health is an unconventional investment in the Middle East. This comes as part of the Group’s vision to provide the national economy with innovative investments that support its future plans and enhance its growth process under the wise directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who always calls for reinforcing Sharjah’s position as a destination for business and innovation.
Concluding his remarks, Hilal stressed that start-ups are an investment in the future, and that technology and health are two of the pillars of the new economy for the post-Covid-19 period.
The Mohamed Hilal Group- VirtuE R&D deal stresses the prestigious position of Sharjah RTI Park as a regional beacon for scientific R&D. The launch of this project also reflects a major step-forward to bring about the necessary up-to-date expertise and technology through knowledge transfer to help achieve development and success in this rapidly changing world by transferring the necessary modern skills, knowledge, and science.
These partnerships built up by the Sharjah RTI Park are in line with the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, aimed to break the ice for the UAE to become the best in all areas worldwide and to achieve the objectives of the UAE Centennial 2071 through the highly efficient investment and application of the latest AI technologies and tools in all fields of work, along with the optimal investment of all potentials, and employing the available human and physical resources and capabilities in a creative manner that helps accelerate the execution of development programs and projects to reach the future.
About Mohamed Hilal Group
Founded in 2001, Mohamed Hilal Group is Sharjah’s and GCC’s largest company in the retail sector with 3 perfume brands. The Group is always striving for innovation and has expanded the scope of work to include restaurants and luxury fashion. With over 800 employees, the company boasts a solid infrastructure overseeing more than 120 stores spread across the UAE & GCC (Kuwait, Bahrain, KSA & Oman).
Sharjah Angel Investors Network (SAIN)
Launched by the Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation Park (SRTI Park), SAIN aims to contribute towards making the UAE economy an open global laboratory for testing new concepts of advanced future technology and a global platform for innovation and entrepreneurship. The initiative will in a way help convert high-net-worth individuals into angel investors and help them execute the angel investment process. From its side, SRTI Park will provide the angel investors with a training programme to educate them on the key elements of angel investment, how to diversify risks, negotiate deal terms and ways to pursue deals and support emerging companies.
About VirtuE R&D
Over years of research into deep psychology and experimental psychotherapy, the founders of the project, Elisabet Calomarde (BS in Psychology) and Marc Herrero (EMBA), have developed an own methodology of using offline, face-to-face therapy to understand how the unconscious mind processes emotions and forms memories. Both project founders are driven by their strong desire and passion to participate in the project and contribute to its success in cooperation with the Sharjah RTI Park to develop a proprietary vehicle-based software whose therapeutic applications are wide-ranging and have previously achieved success in test cases.
Using deep learning processes based on Affective Computing and Artificial Neural Networks, the Company aims to compute the mapping of the human limbic system through a game-based, wholly digitized therapy system, capable of replicating exactly every benefit provided by a human therapist, but at a fraction of the cost and free from the human error, such as non-objective diagnoses and personal projections, that traditional therapy is heir to.
VirtuE’s R&D team works on developing many software applications that can offer solutions to a wide range of mental-health-related problems, most importantly health and wellness in the workplace, prevention and treatment of anxiety and addiction, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
According to the WHO, mental disorders affect one of every four people globally and represent one of the most frequent causes of illness and disability worldwide. Every day hundreds of millions of people suffering from a mental disorder go untreated, due to the prohibitively high cost of and limited access to a human therapist, as well as the dissuading power of all associated stigmas.
The Health and Wellness market, valued today at US$4.2tn, has grown by 12.8 per cent over the last two years, according to the Global Wellness Institute. Finally, VirtuE R&D has a commitment to transparency, where user data is kept confidential and is prohibited to be sold or transferred to any 3rd party, as followed in the technology sector.
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