First One Hundred Days: Bringing Government Funding and Corporate Engagement to Hub71’s Startup Community

1 July 2019, Abu Dhabi, UAE: Hub71, a leading initiative of the Ghadan 21 program and global tech ecosystem in association with Mubadala Investment Company, Microsoft, SoftBank Vision Fund and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), today announced that Aldar Properties, the Department of Health and Abu Dhabi Global Market have come together as partners of Hub71’s MENA Growth Competition, powered by MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab.

The competition will provide ten finalists the opportunity to pitch their winning ideas to corporates and Venture Capitalists (VCs) over a five-day workshop in Abu Dhabi. Judges will then select three winners for prizes each powered by Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi Department of Health and ADGM. The winning startups will be offered the opportunity to join Hub71’s community in Abu Dhabi.

Through the competition, Hub71 aims to address pain points and challenges facing startups globally, specifically by providing support packages for subsidized housing and office space, five-year entrepreneur visas, access to accelerators, corporates programs and funding from VCs and investors, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Office.

Mahmoud Adi, CEO of Hub71, said: “Collaborating with Abu Dhabi’s industry leaders has allowed us to bring a market full of opportunities to the region’s startup community. Across Abu Dhabi there are industries that need innovation and startup thinking to reach the next level, which makes this initiative the perfect opportunity to chart our future as the center of entrepreneurship and innovation. Through our collaboration with MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, Hub71’s MENA Growth Competition 2019 will support pioneering startups from the region - helping them make a mark for themselves globally.”

It was also announced today that the first round of funding from the recently announced Ghadan Ventures Fund by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) has committed to invest up to AED 50 million in Abu Dhabi startups and new fund managers. The first cohort includes two Hub71 resident start-ups, BitOasis and Lamsa. Yacob, and Protenders have also received funding commitments. The startups will receive one dirham for every dirham that their primary investors commit.

Elham Al Qasim, Acting CEO of Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO); Executive Director, Ghadan 21 Sector, Abu Dhabi Executive Office, commented: "We’re excited to see such great momentum built in Abu Dhabi for the startup community and pleased about the great work Hub71 is doing to provide opportunities to their residents. We’ve had a great response to the Ghadan Ventures Fund, both from start-ups seeking fund matching and new fund managers looking to establish in Abu Dhabi. The fund plays an integral role in growing the startups at Hub71 and the ecosystem in general. Our pipeline of potentially eligible startups and funds is rich and I am excited to make further announcements soon. We are looking forward to seeing how these companies grow and additionally, how their innovations will help to drive the digital transformation of the MENA region.  

In an event held at Hub71 earlier today, Aldar Properties announced it will award the competition winner a cash investment of AED 250,000, free housing in one of Aldar’s premium properties for one year, alongside mentorship with the real estate and property developer. 

As for ADGM, the winner will be gain direct entry into ADGM’s RegLab, a regulatory sandbox, free exhibition booth space at the upcoming FinTech Abu Dhabi Summit in October, a chance to participate in Fintech Abu Dhabi Innovation Challenge and gain invaluable mentorship from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Health’s (DoH) award includes coaching and accelerator programs, full access to DoH’s network of corporate partners, hospitals, health insurers, Abu Dhabi Technology Assessment Committee and other government entities, as well as lucrative public sector opportunities. The DoH is running their innovation activities at Hub71, aimed at supporting local and international health tech startups to commercialize their products and services in Abu Dhabi.

Talal Al Dhiyebi, CEO, Aldar Properties, commented: “This competition fits in very well with our corporate strategy, with Innovation and Digital Transformation being key enablers that set the foundation for our pillars of operational excellence, customer centricity, and growth & expansion. The competition provides us with an excellent opportunity to engage with regionally relevant startups and see how their ideas can apply to Aldar.”

Richard Teng, CEO, Financial Services Regulatory Authority, ADGM, added: “We are excited with the new milestone between Hub71 and MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab.  ADGM is fully committed in supporting the development of a vibrant and sustainable tech ecosystem in Abu Dhabi and the UAE. As an International Financial Centre and ecosystem enabler, we look forward to having more tech and FinTech firms anchoring their MENA operations in Abu Dhabi to avail themselves to the best-in-class regulatory framework and dedicated initiatives towards the development of a smart digital economy.”

Commenting on the competition, Dr. Asma Al Mannaei, Director of Healthcare Quality, Department of Health, Abu Dhabi, said: “Our goal is to innovate healthcare for our patients and communities, therefore contributing to Abu Dhabi’s economy and prosperity. By aligning with Hub71 on our shared purpose, we can better support startups who are ready to help us strive for excellence within Abu Dhabi’s best-in-class healthcare setting.”

According to MITEF Pan Arab’s 12th anniversary Impact Report, the MENA region has experienced a ‘90% compound annual growth’ over the past five years positioning the Arab world as a ‘hot region for entrepreneurship’. Hub71 and its partners are set to attract more startups to Abu Dhabi, as the next growth market and epicenter of global innovation.

Maya Rahal, MD of MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, commented:We’re excited to work closely with Hub71 on this competition as our alumni now have the chance to venture forth and take advantage of  incentives and opportunities that were only made available by a forward-thinking Abu Dhabi government adapting to radical shifts in the global economy.”


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