The ASPIRE Award for Research Excellence (AARE) is a competitive funding program for outstanding research proposals in targeted areas within Abu Dhabi. Research funded by the AARE 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.

There are annual calls for proposals to the AARE program. Since 2015 over 150 projects have been funded, with the research undertaken making significant impacts and outcomes that are furthering the knowledge economy and helping to build a critical mass of research at the cutting edge of global science and innovation. The 2020 round of funding made 47 awards totalling AED39 million to world leading projects in priority sector areas being conducted by researchers 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
  • Materials and Manufacturing
  • Education: STEM Focus
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

Applicant Eligibility

The AARE Program is open to all full-time faculty in Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) geographically located within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.


The AARE may be up to three years in duration with a maximum budget of AED 1,000,000 for non-Education (STEM) proposals. Budgets in Education (STEM) may be a maximum budget of AED 400,000.

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 AARE 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