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Helping create the cities of the future in Abu Dhabi

25 January 2024


Academics at Teesside University are taking part in an international collaboration to research cutting-edge solutions to accelerate smart city development in the Middle East.

Members of the smart cities project team in Abu Dhabi
Members of the smart cities project team in Abu Dhabi

The University is lead research and development partner on an initial eighteen-month pilot project involving Singaporean companies Cutech Green Ventures and TWI Global Technology Centre.

The pilot, which is financially supported by Enterprise Singapore and the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, will develop and test a high-tech energy management system to improve energy efficiency of buildings in the city of Al Dhannah in Ruwais, Abu Dhabi.

The collaboration is one of six successful projects (the six successful matches), chosen from 89 submissions, to be selected for the Abu Dhabi – Singapore Smart Cities Open Innovation Challenge.

The challenge, sponsored by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), aims to develop and pilot innovative solutions to smart city challenges in the Emirate while fostering collaboration between Abu Dhabi and Singapore.

The Teesside University project proposes to develop and implement a prototype of a supervisory, cloud-based aggregated energy management and visualisation system (EMS).

Using Internet of Things (IoT) technology combined with specialised techniques for energy management which have been developed by the University in recent years, the EMS will integrate and optimise the management of photovoltaics, battery storage, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and district cooling systems.

The project will employ digital twin concepts and energy data analytics in a large-scale demonstration involving multiple residential, office and leisure spaces in Al Dhannah to improve energy efficiency, leverage cost reductions and enable better integration of local renewable resources.

Should the pilot prove successful, it has the potential for city-wide implementation across Abu Dhabi and other Gulf/Asian regions.

This ambitious and novel project builds upon our expertise in Smart Energy Systems and has the potential to deliver real impact towards making the high-tech, clean cities of the future a reality.

Professor Michael Short

The winning entry to the ADNOC innovation challenge to develop new energy efficiency solutions for buildings in Ruwais was led by Professor Michael Short, Associate Dean (Research and Innovation) in the School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies.

Professor Short said: “We are delighted to be working alongside our international partners in this ground-breaking project.

“As the world looks to a future beyond fossil fuels, the successful integration and management of different energy sub-systems is critical to an effective and efficient city-wide system.

“At Teesside University, we are committed to finding new and disruptive technologies to support green, sustainable growth and increase productivity and prosperity. This ambitious and novel project builds upon our expertise in Smart Energy Systems and has the potential to deliver real impact towards making the high-tech, clean cities of the future a reality.”

Delivering a just transition to a Net Zero future is key part of Teesside University’s mission and this year has seen the opening of its £13.1m Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre (NZIIC).

The NZIIC is central to the Tees Valley Combined Authority's regional innovation strategy, positioning Teesside firmly at the heart of the UK's green industrial revolution.

Professor Nashwan Dawood, Net Zero Research Director at the University, commented: “Teesside University has carried out ground-breaking research and innovation into Smart Energy Systems through previous EU H2020 and Innovate UK-funded projects. The developed technologies have started to achieve global exposure, and our work in UAE is an example of this global reach and commitment to contribute to world-wide Net Zero targets.”

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We invite businesses to join forces with the Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre on this transformative journey. Together, we will accelerate innovation, shape sustainable practices, and forge a path toward net zero emissions. Let's create a legacy that resonates locally and inspires globally.

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*The Net Zero project is receiving up to £8.85m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit