Image by AkshayaPatra Foundation from Pixabay

The program, powered by the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), now in its fifth cohort, offers mentorship, localization, and funding support to selected startups to drive innovation in early childhood development

The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) invites applications to the latest edition of the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Program in partnership with Techstars. This groundbreaking initiative is tailored for startups focused on early childhood development, centering on families and children aged 0-8. With a keen eye on addressing critical issues, the program aligns with ECA’s pillars of health and nutrition, early care and education, child protection, and family support.

For the upcoming Cohort 05, startups are invited to innovate within three additional thematic areas:

  • Intentional Parenting: This is dedicated to empowering parents on their journey to nurture young children, supporting holistic development from birth through age eight. It emphasizes fostering positive parenting and caregiving behaviors prioritizing children’s well-being in digital and physical environments.
  • Culture and Identity: Focusing on the rich UAE heritage, this theme encourages children to appreciate and celebrate their cultural identity. It aims to strengthen social ties and enhance a sense of belonging, promoting Emirati values and identity globally.
  • Sustainable and Family-Friendly Cities: This approach endeavors to reshape urban planning with a child-centered approach, supporting healthy development and social unity by integrating nature, technology, and sustainability into city living.

The Anjal Z program will run from August to November 2024. For the first six weeks, it will be offered virtually to the Ignite and Launch Track founders.


The final four weeks of the program will feature the all-expenses-paid, in-person program in Abu Dhabi in October. This opportunity is tailored for the established founders selected for the Launch Track to help them expand and refine their market strategies within Abu Dhabi and the broader Middle East.

Two Distinct Startup Tracks:

  • Ignite Track: Ideal for early-stage founders, this track offers virtual masterclasses, mentorship, and pitch feedback for startups with monthly recurring revenue (MRR) under US$ 20,000, less than US $250,000 in funding, and a team size under five.
  • Launch Track: Geared towards more established founders with an MRR over US $20,000, this track includes a comprehensive four-week program in Abu Dhabi. Participants will receive masterclasses and mentorship and engage in a localization project that doubles as a go-to-market strategy. Additionally, startups will benefit from non-equity funding of up to US $270,000 to aid their expansion efforts.

Now in its fifth cohort, the Anjal Z program offers non-equity funding and an extensive network of local partners, making it a unique accelerator in early childhood development. Participants can expect high-calibre Techstars Masterclasses & Mentorship, fostering substantial growth and market readiness.

Startups focusing on the four pillars of the ECA, health and nutrition, early care and education, child protection, and family support, and the three themed spaces are invited to apply and seize this chance for growth and influence. The program has the tools, resources, and backing needed to thrive, whether a startup is launching or ready to scale. The Anjal Z Founder Catalyst Program enables founders to immerse in an environment where innovation meets tradition, and startups can achieve global impact.

Discussing the next wave of ECD-focused startups in Abu Dhabi Dr. Yousef Alhammadi, Executive Director of Knowledge and Impact of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, said, “As we embark on our fifth cohort, the launch of the Anjal Z program application underscores Abu Dhabi’s thriving startup ecosystem. With a focus on early childhood development, our program offers selected startups a unique blend of mentorship, financing, and access to collaborative opportunities. Beyond traditional support, our cohort members will benefit from tailored localization assistance and in-depth market insights, ensuring their success in tackling critical challenges. We eagerly anticipate welcoming innovative startups to join us in shaping the future of early childhood development.”

Commenting on the latest cohort of the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Program, Techstars Senior Program Manager Zoe Evans said, “This week marks a pivotal moment for global innovation as we proudly open applications for Cohort 05 of the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst Program. With a focus on Positive Parenting, Culture & Identity, and Sustainable & Family-Friendly Cities, this cohort promises transformative opportunities for participants. Tailored tracks for both early-stage and established startups, coupled with immersive experiences for those chosen startups in Abu Dhabi and access to significant funding, underscore our esteemed partner’s dedication to driving change in early childhood development. We invite visionary entrepreneurs to join us on this journey, shaping a brighter future for Abu Dhabi’s children, families, and communities.”

Founders interested in joining the Anjal Z Techstars Founder Catalyst program can apply via the website until Friday, 28 June 2024.