Priorities:Khalifa University of Science and Technology Faculty Projects

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Project Name: Connecting the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Community on Campus

Project by Faculty Innovation Fellows Candidate Alliya Anderson

Why is this project important to you, your department, & your Fellows?

On campus, there is a big push to increase the output of academic entrepreneurship, but the organizational culture and climate to facilitate entrepreneurship is being largely ignored. For our fellows, their projects revolve around inspiring students to study a major they are excited about, creating community and connection for students on campus, and creating an ecosystem of support for student entrepreneurs. This FIF project overlaps with all the fellows projects in some capacity. We all want to be inspired by the incredible innovations that students and faculty are producing, connect with people doing interesting things, and feel like we are part of a community. Right now, even though I am teaching an innovation and entrepreneurship course, I have no idea who our in-house entrepreneurs are, I find out about workshops and innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives second-hand through students, and I have limited interaction with the on-campus technology transfer office and innovation centers. I am sure I am not alone in feeling disconnected from the entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Our science and technology university has made innovation and entrepreneurship outputs central to its mission. Despite being a very small university, there is very little communication and coordination of innovation and entrepreneurship efforts. Rather than creating an inspiring entrepreneurial ecosystem, we have a series of siloed, competitive support efforts that largely ignore student interests and focus solely on deep tech. Additionally, there are gaps in the type of support offered. Innovation and entrepreneurship support efforts tend to one-off workshops on very early stage opportunity recognition or focus on ventures that already have a minimum viable product with established traction.

This project idea is still evolving. However, in order to address these issues, I would like to work with our UIFs and stakeholders to create a working group/society of/alliance of innovation and entrepreneurship on campus. There is a need for an on-campus community of support for all forms of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Stakeholders served

  • Aspiring and active on-campus entrepreneurs
  • Technology transfer office and innovation centers directors and participants
  • UAE-based entrepreneurs

Key Milestones

  • December 2021: Set up regular coffee with representatives from key stakeholders
  • March 2022: Establish system for planning, facilitating, and sharing I&E events between I&E stakeholders on campus
  • June 2022: Community health check - Do I & E faculty know the key stakeholders on campus and vice versa? Feedback on how to develop and improve the on-campus I&E ecosystem.
  • September 2022: Long-term strategy development with I&E students, I&E faculty, entrepreneurship club (in progress), TTO entrepreneurs, innovation center entrepreneurs, local entrepreneurs
  • December 2022: Create a working group/society of/alliance of innovation and entrepreneurship stakeholders
  • March 2023: Community event with I&E students, I&E faculty, entrepreneurship club (in progress), TTO entrepreneurs, innovation center entrepreneurs, local entrepreneurs

An Innovation Portfolio

Facilitator’s guide
Photo journal of activities

Project Name: KUCC - Khalifa University Cycling Community

Project by Faculty Innovation Fellows Candidate Melanie Bowman

Why is this project important to you, your department, & your Fellows?

My life transformed 3 years ago when I started to cycle. As an active runner, I needed to reduce my running activities. Encouraged by friends, I learnt to ride a road bike. It was an immediate love. My running benefitted and my passion for cycling grew. I am now happier, healthier and stronger.

One of the greatest benefits cycling brought was a sense of community and belonging. This is particularly important for an expat. The connections and friendships formed have been vital amongst the diverse community of cyclists. One of these connections brought me to Khalifa University.

Having a passion for cycling and wanting to help connect people, I would like to establish small cycling initiatives within the KU community. Many staff and students (including myself) joined KU during COVID. This was challenging, highlighting the disconnect between the university, colleagues and students. I believe social sporting activities could assist in bridging the gap. My experience extents to starting a successful beginner run group for the Fatimah Bint Mubarak Ladies Academy. There were excellent results relating to participant fitness, positive mindsets and social connections.

Our President at KU, Dr Arif is an active cyclist who also has a vision to create more cycling opportunities within the university. During our UIF stakeholder meeting Dr Arif mentioned the lack of connections staff have with each other and suggested the UIF team consider this. I believe cycling initiatives could help bridge this gap.

Working alongside the UIF team to enhance campus life, I believe small cycling initiatives could compliment their goals to enrich student life as well as create greater faculty links using a healthy, non-work related approach.


The project vision is to create better connections and enhance life within the Khalifa University community through cycling.

Current cycling climate in the UAE

Cycling in the UAE is a rapidly growing sport that has support from Government and industry. In 2018, Team UAE Emirates was formed with great success, and in their four year existence has won two Tour de France victories. Most recently, it was announced that Team Emirates has acquired a professional female cycling team. This demonstrates there is great interest in developing cycling for females and in general to grow cycling as a UAE sport. At a community level in Abu Dhabi, there is a 2030 masterplan for cycling. This includes developing over 1700 kms of dedicated cycling paths throughout the Abu Dhabi Emirate. Most recently, on 2 November 2021, @BikeAbuDhabi was launched to showcase new cycling initiatives for the city as well as Abu Dhabi being named a UCI Cycling City.

Current cycling climate in Khalifa University

Presently, there are small cycling initiatives within the university environment. The KU men’s cycling team was established over the past few years and is supported by the university through the supply of hire bikes, branded cycling kit and professional coaching.

A female cycling club is in its early infancy. As an invited speaker, I recently gave a presentation to female students which received positive feedback and interest in cycling.

Project Research

The initial phases of the proposed project would involve research via discussions and surveys with key stakeholders (industry and university), students and staff. This would help direct the project focus to areas that show greater need and interest. Below are opportunities for the project to explore however, these could change depending on data received from research and insights.

Project Opportunities Develop a KU cycling for ladies club There is currently interest and support to the start a ladies cycling club. Student Life are in support of this club, and recently encouraged interested female cyclists to a community ride alongside an established #SHERIDE with the Abu Dhabi Cycling Club. To be successful, the KU ladies cycling club needs the support of a lead female cyclist to help drive, develop and motivate the ladies on a weekly social ride. This weekly ride project could help build cycling skills for students and staff while riding together.

Participate in Community events This project could focus on is providing opportunities to branch out into the community through events such as weekly rides with #sherides with Abu Dhabi Cycling Club, Ladies cycling night on the Abu Dhabi F1 Track. Annual events include the World Bicycle Day and Cycle to work Day. Another ride could include collaborating with New York University Abu Dhabi in their annual ‘Ride for Zayed’. Future opportunities to participate or volunteer in community races are available, which again, helps connect and build community.

Learn to ride/try initiatives This is another area for the project to explore and develop. Many students have shown interest in joining a sporting club, particularly cycling. There appears to be a large gap in cycling skill levels. Opportunities to learn to ride with specialised coaches or try a bike day could be offered by KU with future progression of riding with the KU clubs/teams.

On Campus initiatives

  • Regular mini events for staff and students who own bicycles may be encouraged to participate in the following initiatives:
  • Maintenance day - once a quarter on campus. Bring your bike to campus to have it checked by a bicycle mechanic.
  • Bike fit day – twice a year. Industry experts to undertake a basic bike fit check with bicycle owners. This could involve a brief manual or computerised bike fit.
  • Bike maintenance workshops – offered quarterly. Small workshops on how to maintain a bicycle. These could be videoed.

Special KU ‘Ride with the President’

With agreement, our KU President could host a monthly or quarterly ride to encourage students and staff to ride with him on the Hudayriat Island cycle track.

Indoor cycling

Due to the harsh summer climate in the UAE, many outdoor sports are not undertaken. An opportunity exists to develop KU online Community Rides through ‘Strava Club’ or the UAE developed ‘Whoosh’ indoor cycling program.

Branding of KU cycling

Branding can help create a sense of team spirit and belonging. Cycling requires special equipment including cycle kit. Offering KU branded kit and off bike clothing helps achieve team cohesion. This is another project area that could be further developed. Many clubs use CC (cycle club). The KUCC brand could be strengthened through merchandise and push out via official KU social media. Currently New York University do this well, having a strong cycling brand and sense of team spirit.

Additional opportunities

Further opportunities include guest appearances from the UAE Team Emirates pro cycling team to motivate and encourage students/staff through information talks. Long term KU bike rentals or even creating stronger links with local bike shops to purchase second hand bikes for interested students. Basic bikes could be purchased and KU branded to be used by the maintenance crews on the KU campuses (ie gardening etc) Having bikes on site that are seen is another prompt to show people the value of cycling.

Current Cycling Innovations in Khalifa University

The university has many aerospace technologies within the university. There is a huge market for using the expertise of KU carbon experts to develop products using carbon fiber materials for cycling and other sports. KU has designed, developed and prototyped carbon fiber bike frames. This demonstrates the university is open to exploring new innovations which could include cycling accessories such as pedals, helmets, cycling shoes, glasses, saddles, bottle holders, bike racks etc. This may be another area to explore.


This project is focused on bringing people together through cycling. Ideas and suggestions have been proposed however it needs to be emphasized that the project will remain flexible and adaptable. Insights gained from early research will be used to guide project focus as well as gain the support from key stakeholders within the university environment and industry. Milestones have been documented however these are vague and would be adjusted once more clarity in what cycling initiatives will be undertaken.

There are great opportunities for cycling to grow and develop in the UAE. It is a new sport and one that is gaining much traction. It would be incredible to see it grow in popularity within the KU community and create those much needed social connections.

Stakeholders served

  1. Dr Arif, President of Khalifa University
  2. KU Student Life – Ahmed, Asma
  3. Gulf Multisport (Abu Dhabi based Event Management Company specialising in cycling events)
  4. Abu Dhabi Cycling Club
  5. UAE Team Emirates – Mauro Gianetti, Team Principal & CEO
  6. Venues - Yas Marina Circuit (F1 Track) Hudayriat Island
  7. Colnago – Paula (to open concept shop end 2021)
  8. Wolfies Bike Shop (new venue to be opened end 2021)
  9. KU Students
  10. KU Staff

Key Milestones

  • December 2021: Key stakeholders identified. Interviews started. Join the KU #sherides
  • March 2022: Interview findings and insights. Project ideas from findings. Some small initiatives started
  • June 2022: Monitor small initiatives and make improvements. Implement additional initiatives
  • September 2022: Monitor all initiatives and identify most successful. Document research findings.
  • December 2022: Conclusion of the academic year and initiatives
  • March 2023: Project completion and report submitted

An Innovation Portfolio

It is estimated (but not limited to) the following artefacts could be used during the project: PowerPoint slides
Interview notes & summaries
MURAL brainstorms
Photographs (with permissions)
Meeting summaries

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