February 19, 2019, Dubai, UAE - The National Program for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and Projects of the Ministry of Economy, held a press conference for the launch of AIM Starup 2019 with the theme “Harnessing Global Digitization to Empower Startups and SMEs” which will be held on 8-10 April 2019 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
The speakers shed light on the plans and initiatives of the National Program for SMEs and Projects for 2019, which will seek to attract more startups and SMEs to explore investment opportunities that abound in the UAE in various in various fields and sectors.
During the press conference, the agenda for AIM Startup 2019 was also reviewed. The event anticipates the participation of more than 500 startups and SMEs, and over 20,000 visitors, allowing more startups and SMEs to present their ideas to a bigger audience at the forum.
In this regard, Dr. Adeeb Al-Afifi, Director of the National Program for SMEs and Projects, said, “AIM Startup represents this year’s emerging companies in Dubai in a forum that links investment opportunities and investors from around the world. This is a platform where we can showcase the economic developments the UAE has achieved, as well as its economic diversification, which has opened the door even wider for a range of investment opportunities, making it a top destination for investment.”
Al-Afifi also added, “UAE continues its efforts to consolidate its economic position that has made it an ideal global investment destination, and through initiatives such as this forum, UAE strengthens its partnerships and linkages with entrepreneurs and innovators within its SME sector, which plays an important role in the national economy of the UAE.
Al-Afifi also disclosed that the number of registered SMEs has reached 98% of the total registered companies, and 89% of which are into trade and service sector, accounting to 49% contribution to UAE’s non-oil GDP, a fine reflection of the country’s attraction of investment. The total number of SMEs in the country as a whole, and specifically those registered in Dubai, is increasing.
Dawood Al Shezawi, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of AIM Startup also stressed that the UAE has had a timely recognition of the contribution of SMEs to the nation’s GDP, in addition to the size of job opportunities offered by these companies, prompting the government to support projects, investment opportunities, and the development of tools in order to strengthen their capacity on innovation and experimentation, which are fundamental for structural change, through the emergence of SMEs which are equipped with competence and ambition.
“The UAE has provided the ideal environment for SMEs with facilities and incentives, and has developed a number of flexible laws and regulations to make their activity more vibrant, resulting in increased low-capital investments in low-cost businesses. On the competitiveness of SMEs to develop their structures and products through innovation, it allows them to offer quality products and enables them to impose their presence in the markets.”
The Chairman of the Organizing Committee has announced the nomination of 41 startups selected during a roadshow pitch competition held in the region. The selected startups now have the opportunity to come to Dubai with waived registration fee to participate in the final pitch competition in April. Among best innovative minds in entrepreneurship will emerge one winner of the annual competition and will receive $50,000 seed money to support their project.
Winning startups from Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan are Darajtee, 360 Moms, Tarteeb, Takalam, Akyas; from State of Kuwait were Wakoo, E-pill Box, Go Diving, Ideabot, Diabetic Wound Detector; from Oman are Telpay, Zayr, Adeeb Kids, PocketCarage, Fastmovers; from Lebanon are Formidable Industries, Groovy Antoid, Neotic, Lemonade Fashion, Lexyom, Augmental; from Riyadh are Mutamer, Pick Logistics, Maya Clinics, Vigorous Antelope; from Jeddah are Firnas Aero, Bab Makkah, Men wall, Tagit Games, Passioneurs; and from Egypt are Garment IO, Epic VR, WideBot, ZeroPrime Can Waste, and VoXera.
According to a report published by Magnitt, a total of 366 investments were made in startups based in MENA last year, with investment funding of $893 million. The same report also stated that the UAE remains the most active ecosystem, accounting for 30% of all deals and 70% of total funding. Thus, through initiatives such as AIM Startup, SMEs and startups are looking to an even more attractive ecosystem to help the region in achieving the level of investments at par with European or American ecosystem.
The importance of SME sector in the UAE has been formalized under the Federal Law No. 2 of the year 2014, with the establishment of the National Program for SMEs and Projects. Under the umbrella of the Ministry of Economy, it aims to empower entrepreneurs and to develop a general strategy and guidelines aimed at providing the necessary expertise and technical as well as administrative support in various fields in order to promote and develop SMEs. It is also mandated to prepare periodic evaluation as well as to coordinate with federal and local government agencies and the private sector to market enterprising products within the country and internationally.
AIM Startup will host its third edition this year. The annual event has over the years been counting on the continued support of the public and private sector to provide much needed tools in learning and networking platforms for investors and entrepreneurs. On the national level, the support comes from National Program for SMEs and Projects, Sheraa, Sharjah Business Women Council, Khalifa Fund, Dubai South, Wamda, Abu Dhabi Global Market, and many more. From the international level, AIM Startup is highly supported by BIAC, Wadi Makkah, Monshaat, Mohammed bin Salman College and in partnership with Korean Trade Association, Indian SME Chamber, Switzerland’s Solar Impulse Foundation, and Brazil’s Mango Venture.