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Omantel launches Innovation Labs for Omani tech startups

7 Jul 2021

Omantel on Wednesday announced the launch of the Omantel Innovation Labs, which will contribute to Oman’s Vision 2040 by promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in new and emerging technologies.

Under this new initiative, Omantel will leverage its expertise, partnerships, reach, and access to technology to build a tech-based startup ecosystem, the company said in a press release.

The key focus of Omantel Innovation Labs is to cultivate entrepreneurial skills among the youth and accelerate the growth of relevant Oman-based technology startups across five technological verticals: 5G, Internet of Things, cybersecurity, customer experience technology, and Big Data.

Located in a 1,100sqm facility at Omantel headquarters in Muscat, the Innovation Labs will organize, participate in, and host multiple activities to support the company’s internal innovation agenda by providing systematic spaces, approaches, events and activities that can accelerate product conceptualisation, prototyping, testing and deployment of solutions to Oman and Omantel-centric challenges.

“We want to support and tap into new ideas and technologies, stay ahead of the curve and drive local innovation. For this, we need to optimally deploy our resources and create an environment wherein caliber and opportunities match national digital transformation goals. Omantel Innovations Labs have been conceptualised and designed to fit perfectly into this ecosystem and aim to put the company at the heart of Oman’s emerging culture of entrepreneurial growth, knowledge sharing, collaboration and economic development through digitisation,” Talal Said al Mamari, CEO of Omantel, said.

Omantel has been showcasing innovation possibilities with frontier technologies through numerous recent projects that add efficiency to operations and excitement to everyday activities. The company has piloted two major 5G projects in Oman’s transport and logistics sector that offer showcase the use of 5G infrastructure beyond network speed and efficiency but also bring more accountability and streamlining to port operations.

Keeping such developments in mind, the aim of the Innovation Labs is to build a platform that can generate use cases for prioritized technologies and facilitate an ecosystem that complements Omantel’s differentiating activities.

An off-shoot of this initiative is the Omantel Accelerator program, designed in collaboration with the UK Oman Digital Hub. It will be delivered in partnership with Oman-based regional accelerator Oman Technology Fund (OTF) and the global venture accelerator and ecosystem developer Brinc.

The six-month program intends to de-risk innovative startups across multiple stages of their lifecycle. Startups will be guided through the myriad challenges in the highly competitive tech industry through mentorship, networking, and fundraising support.

Mohammed al Rasbi, the managing director at OTF Accelerator, expressed his enthusiasm for the project. He said, “We are very excited about this partnership with Omantel. After accelerating over 100 companies in Oman, the Middle East, and North Arica, we have found that corporate partnerships are vital in increasing the growth rate of our portfolio companies.”

Rasbi stressed the importance of having a carefully curated cohort of companies for the Omantel acceleration program.

“OTF Accelerator will be assisting Omantel in selecting Oman’s next top startups. We believe that having great founders is at the core of having a successful start-up. With our wide regional selection expertise, we are now eager to see that Oman’s best entrepreneurial minds will be part of Omantel Innovation Labs, and Omantel Accelerator specifically.” 

Yasin Aboudaoud, managing partner at Brinc, said, “The global pandemic has underscored the value of innovation, technology and connectivity to business continuity and economic growth, making collaboration a core requirement to accelerating their pace.” 

The program is tailored to meet the needs of each participating startup to ensure that they commercialize, multiply, and scale effectively while providing the technical feasibility, market desirability, and financial viability of their products and operations.

The startup companies joining the program will be eligible for perks worth over US$250,000 in cloud computing, legal services, accounting and other areas and the potential to gain up to US$50,000 in investment from OTF.

The program will also provide the startups with free desk space at the Omantel Innovation Labs, and to access to a network of over 100,000 investors, corporates and mentors.

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