Why global economic revival hinges on the startup ecosystem

The startup economy worldwide is worth US$3 trillion, a figure larger than the GDP of the UK, France, or Brazil. Besides adding valuable dollars to the economy, startups drive job creation – approximately 50% of all new jobs will be provided by startups between 2018 and 2035.

The bullish outlook on the startup economy may have taken a hit in light of the recent crisis – yet global experts, economists, and government leaders agree unanimously on the critical role of startups in driving economic growth, post-pandemic. Why still the belief in these ‘Davids’ of the tech world? (in comparison to the ‘Goliath’ tech giants)

Here's why...

Awakening industries 

First and foremost, now more than ever governments and industries are awakening to the prospect of a tech-driven economy, to sustain growth amid the new realities.

Within the region, this is even more prominent with the UAE having announced an economic rebuilding plan based on 5G, AI, and digital transformations, while Saudi Arabia has been ranked 3rd globally for 5G deployment. The investments, vision, and intensive rebuild action-plans clearly bring tech startups more into the spotlight than ever before.

Dominant emerging economies like China, India, and Africa are also pitching digital transformation as an essential factor for restarting and thriving the punctured economic state.

Agile responses to COVID-19

Secondly, startups have been extremely agile in their response to the rampant pandemic and the crisis. Many of them innovated fast and pivoted faster to empower healthcare, remote working, and distance learning – which were the critical need of the hour. For example:

- Dubai-based Searchie adapted its AI video recruitment platform to screen patients and help medical professionals to cope with COVID-19 crisis
- Zoom’s user-base grew by 900% in the UAE alone as remote working surged
- Massive Open Online Courses like Coursera are set to soar in a market growing at a CAGR of 40.55%

While the global challenges may have been prominent, who can deny startups’ abilities to go against the odds and reinvent the future? After all, this is ingrained into their core mission.

Shifting mindsets

From an industry point-of-view, more and more businesses are shifting their mindsets to incorporate a robust online presence for their employees, customers, and suppliers – to keep the supply chain moving and intact. From working from home to managing remote teams, traditional businesses are now more operating and leveraging online platforms, raising the demand for startups and their technologies.

Yes, things have changed over the last few months. And while some changes may be for better – there’s one thing certain: there’s no going back to the old ways of working and past perspectives. Industries are now gearing up for a whole new normal, powered by innovation. Which of course, opens new doors for startups.

GITEX Future Stars

As the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia’s dominant startup event in terms of both scale and opportunities – GITEX Future Stars is the startup gateway to the large-scale digital transformations taking place across regional industries and global economies.

Recognizing the brave pivots and steely determination of startups to stay relevant in these fast-changing times, GITEX Future Stars also launched the Back To Life Challenge. The challenge rewards startups who have helped us in the fight against the enveloping crisis, with a bunch of benefits for innovations in healthcare, remote working, and digital education.

GITEX Future Stars is a core member of the region’s startup ecosystem and we believe we have a responsibility to support startups and help the ecosystem thrive. This is where business meets innovation and we work hard to bring together the whole ecosystem under one roof – from startups to corporates to investors – to inspire new collaborations and real tech progress.

Join us for our new rescheduled dates, between 6-9 December 2020 in Dubai, as we regroup to revive the business collaborations, human connections, and incredible new opportunities for startups to thrive and lead our post-pandemic future.


2019 was a productive year for EdTech in MENA, as the industry witnessed more deals (29) and total funding ($20M) than any previous year. Access more data and trends in our new 2019 MENA Education Venture Investment Report.