[Disclaimer]: This article was originally published on Entrepreneur Middle East on July 1, 2019. The opinions expressed in this article belong to the contributor himself/herself.
"The private sector and established corporates have benefited from government investment and economic growth, but the next wave of development will rely on the success of business creators, startups, and innovators."
The UAE dominates the MENA startup technology scene with the “highest of share of investors, number of deals, and value of deals,” according to the latest report by Arabnet. With a significant 31% share of all MENA investors based in the UAE, the Emirates boasts almost a third of all transactions, and 70% share of the MENA region’s total funding, according to MAGNiTT.
At the same time, it’s little wonder that UAE-born companies are making headlines for themselves after the US$3.1 billion dollar acquisition of Careem by ride-share giant Uber. And now, startups are trickling in from across the globe to realize the growth and potential of the Middle East region.
How can we ensure this momentum is maintained, and what can traditional corporates do to support the growth of startup ecosystems?
Of course, it all begins with the startups themselves– the passion, the ideas, the digital innovation that can create something from nothing. As an economy, and as a society, we need to continue celebrating these people and their successes. But equally important is putting in place the infrastructure and support that creates an environment in which startups can flourish.
Startups already see the UAE as an attractive destination for new technology companies and market-changing innovations. With the highest mobile penetration rate in the world at 173%, and with the arrival of 5G in the coming months, it’s easy to see why. But that’s not enough. We need to focus on ensuring Abu Dhabi sustains this growth, nurtures the best startups and talent, and provides what they need to grow faster, scale globally, and beat the odds.
At Hub71, the interconnected tech ecosystem located in Abu Dhabi’s financial district Abu Dhabi Global Market Square, this is precisely what we’re trying to do. There aren’t many people that would disagree with this goal. The question is: how do we get there, and how can the business community support?
Boosting the rate of success
The first thing we need to address is improving the success rate for startups. It’s important that entrepreneurs have a platform where trial and error doesn’t have to be make or break for a business, where there’s a safe and open environment, and where some of the upfront costs are taken care of to enable the innovation and startup process to move forward.
Through Hub71, we’ve developed incentive packages that are designed to support startups with their day-to-day expenses like housing, office space, and health insurance, which we believe provides them with a soft-landing pad for those who are brave enough to launch new ideas, and balance the risk.
Partnerships are another key pillar of boosting the odds for success. This is critical to enabling knowledge transfer, and builds those all-important networks that are the arteries of a successful startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem. We’ve partnered with the likes of MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab (MITEF) to help do this.
Embedded in the MENA region startup scene for the past 14 years, MITEF Pan Arab has created 14,000 jobs, and has an alumni that’s added around $415 million to the Arab World’s GDP. MITEF Pan Arab and Hub71’s newly announced collaboration is engineered to provide an integrated all-in-one program that encourages MENA’s best entrepreneurs to think of Abu Dhabi as their next growth market. We believe that it’s only through partnerships like this that new models can flourish, and the ecosystem take root.
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