Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority launches cohort 04

Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority launches cohort 04 of the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Programme.

The programme, supported by the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), provides mentorship, localisation, and funding to 20 selected startups to encourage innovation in early childhood development (ECD) United Kingdom: The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) has announced the 20 chosen startups for Cohort 04 of the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Programme in partnership with Techstars.

The fourth cohort of the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Programme began on 6th November 2023 with two tracks for growth and early-stage startups, Launch and Ignite, and will provide masterclasses and mentorship from leading industry-specific experts. Six startups within the programme’s Launch Track are eligible to receive non-equity funding from the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), as part of the extensive range of support offered to enhance Abu Dhabi’s private sector and knowledge economy. The ECA, a government entity in Abu Dhabi, supports comprehensive early childhood development.

Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, is the programme’s community partner, assisting the startups’ growth by facilitating access to the ecosystem’s value-added programmes. Anjal Z aims to source and select leading ECD global startups and assist them in scaling from Abu Dhabi. The initiative supports disruptive businesses in utilising their products to address early childhood development challenges across Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates through a partnership-driven, customised, and experience-based fellowship programme.

Following three successful cohorts, the fourth instalment, in partnership with Techstars, provides mentorship and resources to help ECD entrepreneurs develop their businesses and localise their solutions for a positive impact on children and families.

The 20 startups selected for Cohort 04 of the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Programme are:

  • Earlybean
  • Tilli Kids
  • Babbu
  • Wonderly
  • One Learning
  • Hakawati AI
  • Diagnio Inc
  • Omooma
  • Storytailor.ai
  • Bebe Bitez
  • Scraft
  • SayKid
  • Elggo
  • Hoopla
  • Storybook
  • Zenimal
  • Cappella
  • Storybutton
  • Kindello
  • EveryBaby

The selected startups for Cohort 04 of the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Programme, meeting in-person (January–February 2024) in Abu Dhabi, include:

  • Storybook (USA), an award-winning app improving children's emotional health and sleep through relaxation techniques and audio stories.
  • Zenimal (USA), bringing mindfulness to life with its portable, child-friendly design, making meditation easy and enjoyable for children.
  • Cappella (USA), using AI to interpret baby cries for soothing babies and providing peace of mind to parents, while making baby monitoring sustainable and accessible to all communities.
  • Storybutton (USA), simplifying family access to great audio content without screened devices.
  • Kindello (New Zealand), the Airbnb of daycares - every option, one place, instantly book a visit.
  • EveryBaby (UK), a medical device company pioneering accurate and user-friendly preterm birth risk assessment for expectant mothers.

Abu Dhabi is recognised as the fastest-growing startup ecosystem in the MENA region and the sixth globally, according to the Global Startup Ecosystem Report. Since the 2020 launch of Anjal Z, the programme has completed three cohorts, supporting 32 early and growth-stage startups, and helping establish half of the growth-stage startups (nine of 18) in Abu Dhabi.

Badr Al-Olama, Director General of Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), commented: “Abu Dhabi's dynamic education and healthcare ecosystems hold boundless promise in advancing the wellbeing of young individuals. The commencement of the fourth cohort of the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Programme positions us at the forefront of pioneering solutions to address early childhood development challenges with vigour and ingenuity. This initiative exemplifies the spirit of collaboration with our flourishing startup ecosystem and underscores the unwavering support extended towards addressing paramount social concerns."

Dr Yousef Alhammadi, Executive Director at ECA, remarked: "The Anjal Z programme is at the forefront of creating economic opportunities for global ECD startups by strategically investing in them, a commitment that distinguishes us in the ECD landscape. As we launch our new cohort, we endeavour to not only foster innovation but also contribute to the economic growth of Abu Dhabi and beyond. This initiative exemplifies the value that the ECA brings as we actively participate to enhance the startup ecosystem. We are committed to bolstering these entrepreneurial endeavours, fostering a dynamic environment that not only serves the startups but also drives social and economic advancement and innovation."

Ahmad Ali Alwan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Hub71, stated: “Our team is committed to supporting the latest cohort of startups from the Anjal Z programme at Hub71 as they continue to grow and scale within our ecosystem. Our goal is to empower these startups to make an impact, not only in Abu Dhabi but beyond. We are proud to be a partner of this initiative to contribute to building a brighter future for early childhood development."

Katie Smith, Head of Ecosystem Development at Techstars, said: “Techstars is proud to be a key partner in the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Program, an initiative that aligns seamlessly with our commitment to fostering innovation and supporting startups across the region. Together with our esteemed partners, The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), we will continue to create a positive impact on the families and children of Abu Dhabi and we look forward to seeing the amazing results that this new cohort of startups will achieve.”

`The Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Programme is ongoing from November 2023 to February 2024, both virtually and in person.