The ASPIRE Young Investigator Award (AYIA) is a competitive funding program open to researchers who are within 6 years of obtaining their terminal degree (PhD or equivalent) for outstanding research proposals in targeted areas within Abu Dhabi. Research funded by the AYIA program is expected to advance scientific and technological development within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, as well as develop meaningful partnerships between Abu Dhabi scientists and leading academic and industrial collaborators, both nationally and worldwide. Applicants will be required to demonstrate the potential impact of their research and identify how this impact may be realized.

There are annual calls for proposals to the AYIA program. There have been 2 rounds of awards announced in 2019 and 2020. The 2020 round of funding made awards totalling AED1 million to 6 outstanding young researchers working in HEIs in Abu Dhabi.

Priority Sectors

The awards are targeted to sectors of strategic importance to Abu Dhabi:

  • Aerospace
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Health and Biotech
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Education: STEM Focus
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

Applicant Eligibility

The AYIA Program is open to researchers who are within 6 years of obtaining their terminal degree (PhD or equivalent) currently employed as a full-time faculty in Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) geographically located within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The applicant should also include a suggested faculty mentor as a Co-PI.


The AYIA may be up to two years in duration with a maximum budget of AED 200,000 for non-Education (STEM) proposals. Budgets in Education (STEM) may be a maximum budget of AED 100,000.  

Key Criteria

  1. Novelty and intellectual merit of the proposal.
  2. Potential impact of the research and the described path to impact.
  3. Relevance to Abu Dhabi strategic priority areas.
  4. Qualifications and track record of the Lead PI, Co-investigators and collaborators.
  5. Commitment of Higher Education Institution and availability of support and infrastructure.
  6. Collaboration with industry where applicable.
  7. Training and human capital development.



The 2021 Call for Submissions is now closed. Dates for the 2022 call to the AYIA program will be communicated to HEIs in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of the year.



For further information on the program and how to apply to it please contact us at