Virtual Research Institutes Program (VRIs - 2019/20)

Virtual Research Institutes Program (VRIs - 2019/20)

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.

Initially, three VRIs will be established to 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. Initially, three VRIs will be established with funds of up to AED 70 million over five years. The targeted sectors are specifically the following, with only one VRI to be established per sector:


Applicant Eligibility

The VRIs Program is open to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) located within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in conjunction with collaborators from local, national and international affiliates and industry. No funds can be directed to industry.

Each application must consist of a designated Hub institution with at least two Spoke institutions and industry collaborator(s) whose research focus complements the themes as outlined in the proposal. Named Directors and Theme leaders must be full time Faculty at respective hub and spoke institutions.

It is important to Note that the applicant will be the lead HEI not the faculty director per se, so all applications are submitted at the discretion of the Hub HEI. 


Awards may be of up to five years in duration with up to a maximum requested budget of AED 70 million, based on satisfactory annual reports, with one chance of additional 5-year funding through competitive renewal.

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

Pre-proposal Submission

The deadline for pre-proposal submission was 12:00 PM, 20 April 2020.