Masdar City : An Emerging Clean Technology Cluster
While its eye-catching architecture and signature commitment to being carbon neutral and zero waste have put Masdar City in headlines across the globe, it is the substantial business and research opportunities it offers as the first cleantechnology cluster to be located in a carbon-neutral, zerowaste smart city that has already attracted leading companies, organisations and academic institutions. For example:
- General Electric will build its first Ecomagination Centre, a facility that will support the development of energy-efficient products in the region.
- The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to promoting the adoption of renewable energy solutions worldwide, will locate its secretariat at Masdar City.
- Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven academic institute is cooperating with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to offer courses focused entirely on education and research in alternative energy and sustainable technologies.
But Masdar City is not only designed for large organisations. It also is ideal for small- and medium-sized enterprises, regional firms and entrepreneurial start-ups operating in the field of clean technology, as well as the many ancillary service providers that support them. Driving everything at the US$22 billion, sixsquare- kilometre special economic zone located at the centre of Abu Dhabi’s future developments, is a vision to become a global centre for innovation, research, product development and light manufacturing in the fields of renewable energy and sustainable
Construction began at Masdar City in 2008. In 2010, handover will begin of the first completed building, the campus of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The rest of phase one, which includes the Masdar headquarters, will be completed in stages through 2013.While the remaining six phases will be developed over the next decade, Masdar City is already creating a community of cleantech companies by offering temporary office facilities in an existing building in Abu Dhabi city.
Masdar City is one of five integrated components of Masdar, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mubadala Development Company, the Abu Dhabi government’s investment vehicle. The other components are the Masdar Institute; Utilities and Asset Management, which is both a renewable energy project developer and investor in promising technologies; Carbon Management, which seeks to monetise carbon emission reduction projects in Abu Dhabi and to develop a carbon capture and storage network in the emirate; and Industries, which is developing solar manufacturing facilities in Abu Dhabi and Germany.
1,500 Businesses, 40,000 Residents
The city will host approximately 1,500 businesses and be home to as many as 40,000 residents. Power will be generated by photovoltaic technologies, as well as concentrated solar power, waste to energy and potentially, geothermal. Water will come from sustainable desalination technologies, while complex water conservation and recycling systems will reduce consumption and provide irrigation for landscaping and crop production. Waste will be recycled, composted and used to produce power.
Masdar City will be the first modern city to operate without fossil-fuelled cars and trucks. The design of the city will allow individuals to live and work without the need for a personal vehicle, in part through the first large-scale transportation system that is carbon neutral and emission free. This electric system will include revolutionary Personal Rapid Transit and Freight Rapid Transit networks that, together with pedestrian and public transit methods, will safely move people and goods throughout the city and ensure that nearly all points within the city are no more than 150 metres from the public transportation system.
Locating in Masdar City offers numerous benefits to cleantech companies and organisations, as well as a wide range of ancillary service providers. These benefits include potential access to capital, a critical mass of sector knowledge, a large pool of highquality talent, and access to local, regional and international markets.
Masdar investment funds will be making select investments in certain types of companies, while cleantech venture capital firms being drawn to the city will be another source of potential capital. The large number of research entities, companies and non-governmental organisations that will operate from the city offer opportunities for continuous formal and informal information sharing, while the Masdar Institute will provide technical support and collaboration opportunities to help commercialise and deploy new technologies. The institute will also produce a steady stream of MSc and PhD graduates, while experts from around the world will be drawn to Masdar City – thereby ensuring a highly skilled talent pool of engineers and scientists specialised in core cleantech-related disciplines.
Masdar City itself represents a major market and customer for cleantech products and solutions across a wide range of sectors. The city offers companies the opportunity to test alpha and beta technologies and, through the building of the city, provides the only large-scale platform of its kind anywhere in the world for testing cutting-edge cleantech technologies.
What’s more, Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) countries, as well as those in the surrounding region, offer large and growing markets for cleantech solutions given their strong economic and demographic growth and increasingly supportive regulatory environment and government-level commitment to sustainability.
As with other free zones in the UAE, locating in Masdar City offers, among other benefits, a rapid set-up process, reduced tax footprint and pro-business environment.
Free zone benefits include:
- Quick and easy set-up with a single point for registration, government relations and visa processing.
- A fast-track immigration process designed to ensure swift access to talent and resources.
- Zero percent personal and corporate taxes
- No restrictions on capital movements, profits or quotas.
- 100% foreign ownership.
For most companies, whatever their size or stage of development, there are two main ways to benefit from engaging with Masdar City. As a supplier, companies can provide the products and solutions that will be used to develop and operate the city. As a partner, companies operate from the city, thereby benefiting from its one-of-a-kind cleantech cluster environment.
Masdar City is positioning itself to be at the centre of the cleantech industry, an industry that will see tremendous growth, both here in the region and across the globe for decades to come. As such, it provides not just a one-of-a-kind location for working and living, but also an opportunity to be a part of the future.