Dubai’s Urban Tech District will become a living laboratory where innovation & entrepreneurship in urban technology come together to thrive.
Located on the Creekside of Al Jaddaf area in Dubai, the urban tech district will create 4000 jobs in green urban tech, education & training. It will also be home to venture capitals to provide the fuel for entrepreneurs, thus empowering a unique collaborative urban tech eco system.
Urban Tech will be at the core of all future cities. Tech-enabled urban developments seek to provide solutions to the challenges created by urbanisation in various areas such as zero-mile food production, food security, affordable & scalable renewable energy, low energy demand water harvesting, zero-waste management, and waste to energy solutions. These are just some of the many challenges our cities our facing.
Baharash Bagherian CEO of URB, the company behind the project said: “Dubai is best positioned to lead the Urban Tech Transformation than any other city in the world. The Urban Tech District will be a new global tech hub for urban innovation. With a total of 140,000 square metres of built up area, it will be the world’s largest urban tech district. Thus making Dubai the centre for urban innovation.”
The new district will provide facilities for conferences, training, research, seminars, business incubation as well as various amenities. The building will also offset all its embodied carbon emissions from construction & operation. As a net zero carbon district, the development will help to reduce the carbon footprint of its partner businesses, thus enabling a low-carbon workforce.
Innovation will be at the heart of the Urban Tech District. The district will enable the growth of urban-tech solutions at a much larger scale, as well as provide investment opportunities to innovators that are tackling some of the most critical issues related to sustainable cities. The district will provide opportunities for a new breed of innovative companies that require a platform to grow rapidly.
The district will also be home to the urban tech institute, which will foster the next generation of urban tech leaders. The institute will provide opportunities to pilot new innovations based on applied research whilst driving public private partnerships.
Urban tech is a term to describe any technology that addresses the challenges of urban living. More equitable living conditions can be created by integrating urban tech in the planning of cities. New advances in urban technology can have a significant influence on how our cities can provide a more livable and resilient environment for their citizens. As societies become increasingly digital, the need for impactful urban technologies has become a necessity.
Yet the term is rapidly evolving to also address the environmental challenges and threats of climate change. Thus “green urban tech” is also a new term growing in trend. The role of urban tech districts is to cultivate the growth of companies that are conceiving & developing such technologies to create a collaborative urban tech eco system.
By 2050, it is expected that almost 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. Rapid increase in population, urbanisation which coupled with climate change will have severe impacts on our cities’ infrastructures and resources, as well as the health and wellbeing of their residents. Mega-cities with populations of more than 10 million people are also on the rise; the United Nations projects that there will be 41 Mega-cities by 2030. This will require a significant shift in the way we integrate technology into cities to ensure they are sustainable.
To help accelerate much-needed solutions, the Urban Tech District will empower entrepreneurs to focus entirely on developing new solutions for the next generation of sustainable cities across the world. It will become a living lab where entrepreneurship and innovation in urban planning come together to thrive. The district will provide investment opportunities as well as support in scaling solutions in urban-tech.
Our lifestyle habits are also constantly changing as urban challenges grow, socio-economic challenges expand and new technologies emerge. The increase rate of climate change is also fuelling new thinking in the planning of cities. As such the demand for new solutions & innovations in urban tech is increasing in demand globally. The global urban tech market is estimated to be $158 billion dollars, which is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade. The Urban Tech District will focus on high emissions sectors which are currently underfunded globally.
Ultimately the urban tech district will attract investments, promote start-ups, entrepreneurs and education, thus empowering a unique collaborative urban tech eco system.
As a net zero carbon district, the development will help to reduce the carbon footprint of its partner businesses, thus enabling a low-carbon workforce. The district will thus become a benchmark for UAE’s sustainable future & net zero target goals. Each business in the district will enroll in a tenant zero carbon engagement program, which aims to help tackle emissions collectively by raising awareness & optimizing operational performance towards net zero.
Onsite urban farming will provide food to table for the various F&B outlets. Onsite renewable solar farms will offset the energy demand of the building. The climate-controlled atriums are highly energy efficient, which are cooled by evaporative cooling using 100% fresh air.
The design of the buildings also use advanced passive and active sustainable practices with an aim of reducing the overall energy demand of the building. At a typology level, the development maximized the use of flexible multifunctional spaces to minimize redundancy of space usage & increase the sharing of resources. This will also allow for the open plan spaces to be more easily adapted in the future for other uses should it be required.
At a building level, sensors play a key role. Indoor lighting and temperature can automatically be adjusted based on various variables. These variables include the number of occupants in a room, the time of day as well as exterior weather and light conditions. All buildings will have embedded sensors to detect motion, temperature, noise, moisture, fire, smoke etc… to provide real-time data and help improve operational efficiency, safety and security.
The indoor environment will also promote wellbeing through Biophilic design, which is best known for its application in office environments. This is due to the increase in studies which have shown the enhanced effects of nature in workplace environments. Some of the benefits of nature include increased productivity and happiness of employees.
Given that a happy and productive workforce produce better work, take less sick leave and are more loyal, Biophlia will add significant value to businesses. The district will provide a range of flexible working zones of various scales which are integrated with nature to enhance employee communication and collaboration.
The breakout spaces are open to everyone and are separate to working areas. These are spaces where employees and visitors can relax, break for lunch, take a coffee break or have an informal meeting. Majority of the break out spaces are designed to give employees time away from their desks. These spaces are another great opportunity to create strong connection with nature. These spaces are integrated with trees and landscaped gardens to help reduce employee stress.
Ultimately the design of the interiors will create more chance meetings and chance encounters. This is about sparking conversation between people when they collide and mingle by chance. Sometimes these chance meetings fuel innovative discussions. Thus these spaces provided one of the best opportunities to integrate with nature, as it is believed to enhance creativity.
Urban Tech district will also be home to the urban tech institute, which will foster the next generation of urban tech leaders. The urban tech institute will make research & education in urban technology more accessible. As an emerging sector, Urban Tech is a new field of study and will grow rapidly as cities worldwide look towards creating a more livable environment for their residents.
The institute will look to close the gap between academic, private & public sectors, thus enabling a collaborative testbed. The institute will provide opportunities to pilot new innovations based on applied research whilst driving public private partnerships. The aim of the institute is to also foster education in Urban Technology at schools by offering seminars & workshops.
The research infrastructure of the Urban Tech Institute will provide valuable data & expertise to create impactful outputs. In addition to research, the institute will also undertake various initiatives such as; roundtables to explore opportunities, educational training, conferences & seminars.
The district will also promote programmes, networking events, exhibitions, workshops, seminars, lectures and stakeholder and community engagement in proof of concepts to cultivate a unique urban tech ecosystem. This collaborative ecosystem will help to conceive, develop & accelerate solutions together. Yet the Urban Tech District is more than a collaborative space for innovators and private sector accelerators. It will also be home to venture capitalists to provide the fuel for entrepreneurs in urban tech to thrive.
The way we interact with our cities, such as the services and systems that support them, will highly influence our quality of life. Thus creating an urban tech ecosystem has become a necessity to enable more liveable & resilient cities. Urban tech is also an economic opportunity to enable a circular economy & create more green jobs in various sectors, such as energy, water, waste, food, mobility & building materials.
Urban Tech can have a significant impact on how we live, work and thrive together in our cities. Many sectors require critical innovations in areas such as mobility, food, water, energy, waste etc. The rapid increase of climate change, coupled with urbanisation & population rise are also fuelling the need for cities to become zero carbon. Thus global cuts in carbon emissions are enabling cities to reinvent themselves through urban tech.
Urban Tech District will become home to innovators & entrepreneurs, providing the necessary support and help with investments to enable more livable, resilient & sustainable cities.