The Virtual Research Institutes (VRIs) Program is a competitive funding program for outstanding centre-based research proposals in targeted areas within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

ASPIRE has funded three VRIs in the key areas of biotechnology, food security and sustainable energy production. These VRIs will stimulate innovation, enable economic diversification and build highly skilled human capital.

The development of the VRIs will provide a structure with sufficient scale, diversity and multidisciplinarity through academia and industry collaboration, to generate leading relevant research.


Priority Sectors

The VRIs program will target sectors of strategic importance to Abu Dhabi. The 3 initial VRIs have been established with total funding of over AED200 million over five years. The targeted sectors are specifically the following, with only one VRI to be established per sector:

Sustainability (Energy)
Sustainability (Energy)
Artificial Intelligence and High-Performance Computing
Food Security
Food Security
advance materials
Advanced Materials



At least 10% of the total annual required budget of the VRIs must come from participating HEIs and industry.  

Award amounts will be based on:  

  • Nature and feasibility of the proposed VRIs
  • Practicality of the program budget proposed
  • Level of institutional and industry cost sharing
  • Alignment of the core research concept with the strategic research areas of Abu Dhabi

There is no active call for proposals. For further information on the program and please contact us at