AUS Enterprises, a new holding company established by Amiri decree in 2015 to develop projects for the American University of Sharjah (AUS), is to establish an economic free zone dedicated to research and development. According to UAE newspaper The National, the first phase of the AUS Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) Park* is expected to be completed in 2018 and will accommodate 200 companies.
Sharjah already has two free zones established in 1995, Hamriyah Free Zone and Sharjah Airport Free Zone (SAIF Zone), which together have about 13,500 companies registered from 157 countries. In February 2016, the Ruler of Sharjah ordered the establishment of Sharjah Media City Free Zone for creative and media industries, in a move to encourage more startups and other SMES (small and medium-sized enterprises) to locate in the emirate.
The RTI Park will be located near to the American University of Sharjah and will enjoy free zone status, allowing 100 percent foreign ownership. The park will form part of Sharjah’s efforts to foster innovation, encourage entrepreneurship and develop a sustainable knowledge economy. Targeting local and global companies, including private-public sector ventures, the free zone is expected to offer office space, scientific laboratories and residential accommodation.
AUS Enterprises was formed to develop and manage investment projects for AUS that support the university and strategic initiatives in the academic, research, technology and real estate sectors. Meanwhile, a new entrepreneurship centre, branded ‘Sheraa’, was launched at the American University of Sharjah in January by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), aiming to inspire young people to start their own enterprises and raise the emirate’s profile as a preferred destination for startups.
The American University of Sharjah is a not-for-profit, independent, institution of higher education was founded in 1997 and located in Sharjah’s University City. The university offers 26 majors and 46 minors at the undergraduate level, plus 14 master’s degrees. AUS is ranked 7th in the 2015 QS University Rankings for the Arab Region.
Source: AUS, AUS Enterprises, The National
*Now known as Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP)