Corporate innovation festival fuels startup growth across MENA region: StartUp Bahrain Week
Unbound Bahrain doubles in size with attendees gaining insights into startup growth and the future
“You have a government here who is willing and able to help you succeed” said Excellency Khalid Al Rumaihi (Bahrain), Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) as part of his opening remarks at leading innovation festival Unbound Bahrain which took place in Manama, Bahrain this week.
The event took place in conjunction with StartUp Bahrain Week, a community-led festival that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation connecting attendees from around the world.
The event takes place as the corporate innovation model taking hold in the MENA region over recent years gathers pace with corporations venturing into the startup realm to find solutions to an ever changing marketplace.
“Corporations are recognising the power and influence of regional startups, your Careem, Fetchr, Talabat are all disrupting traditional business models so corporations are adopting one of two solutions: find skills and resources to compliment them or find ambitious startups to partner with and help them develop.” said Sheikh Abdulla Al-Khalifa, Director of Communications, Zain Bahrain.
“Corporates need to partner with startups” said Searchie, an Ai powered talent solution Co-Founder Sahiqa Bennett, a finalist in the AWS Battle of the Startups competition at Unbound Bahrain, an innovation festival connecting promising startups with corporate innovation departments.
“Corporates are looking to transform recruitment and develop their existing employees.. Startups provide that linkage for them to solve problems” she added. Culture, values. Needs and skills make high performers, imagine what this could do to businesses.
Over 100 startups from across the world exhibited at this year’s Unbound Bahrain event with large delegations from UK, India, Hong Kong and the wider MENA region. Major international and regional corporate tech players such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Zain and CrediMax partnered with the event to meet with and hopefully build relationships with early emerging market players.
AWS held the MENA Startup Battle competition attracting hundreds of applications across the region with heats taking place in Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. 12 startups were selected for the finals where Statys, a fintech startup that reduces the cost of risk assessment for banks and other lenders, was announced as the winner.
The MENA region is beginning to see a surge in interest from startups around the world.
“We came to Bahrain to explore opportunities and we’ve had very positive discussions. If we can secure roll out of our product, Bahrain would be an ideal place to set up business” said Harvider Hingh, Chairman of AIRSENSA, an environmental startup focused on improving air quality.