The United Arab Emirates has a booming startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem. As such, the amount of resources available for these emerging companies is growing at a rapid pace. Entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level can apply for inclusion into an incubator program.
Incubators create the perfect nurturing environments for startups by providing early funding, resources, mentoring programs, and much more. The majority of reputable incubators offer classes that teach entrepreneurs a myriad of valuable skills, offering expert blogging tips for SEO, pitch deck creation advice, and business plan writing classes. The primary goal of an incubator is to shorten the cycle of time it takes for a business to grow. They offer early business validation, access to funding, and provide a plethora of networking opportunities.
Startup incubators are key to Dubai’s strategy of becoming the smartest city in the world by 2021. If you’re in the UAE, here are a handful of incubators you can participate in:
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) launched FinTech Hive in January 2017, and the incubator focuses on supporting startups in the financial technology sector. The company has been working towards a 2024 global growth strategy, and has an umbrella of global financial institution partners that it works with to help propel them towards that goal.
A handful of several promising financial technology startups have gotten started at FinTech Hive with grand visions of companies that can transform the way people manage their finances. The company helps with public relation and marketing exposure, offers events and networking opportunities with community of like-minded individuals, and access to a network of partnerships with international accelerators and associations.
Silicon Oasis Founders, Dubai
This incubator is owned by the government of Dubai, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), and focuses on fostering entrepreneurial talents in the local area within the mobile application space. They offer strategic startup business loans and incubation services geared towards helping companies accelerate growth and refine their business proposals. According to the company, “SOF focuses on fostering local entrepreneurial talents in the promising mobile application space and related technologies. SOF’s expertise will help emerging entrepreneurs to refine their business proposals, and accelerate growth.”
TechStars is one of the most well-known incubators in the world, and they recently opened a branch in Dubai. The incubator offers $20,000 in exchange for 6% equity, and $100,000 in the form of a convertible note, which can be used at the startup’s discretion.
Over its decade-plus history, they’ve achieved global success and have managed to open over 30 branches around the world. It has a diverse philosophy, accepting promising startups across all industries. Additionally, tt has a partnership with GINCO in Dubai, a leading construction engineering conglomerate. On average, TechStars alumni go on to raise $2 million on average. Some of their previous alumni include ClassPass, Contently, and PillPack.
AstroLabs is a Dubai-based coworking space, and it has many benefits that make it a perfect place to get started with a business. The company has grown a reputation for serving as a launchpad for the most promising tech startups. The space offers plenty of resources that startups can take advantage of, including a training facility, several meeting rooms, and a Google-supported mobile device development lab.
AstroLabs has a partnership with the Dubai Metals & Commodities Centre (DMCC) to offer a subsidized company licensing program that includes a waiver for first year company registration fees (which amounts to saving values of $12K), a fast-track company set up, an allowance of up to five residency visas per startup, and no initial capital requirements. They also host regular classes on everything from coding to digital marketing to interface design and core business skills. Other partnerships include Google for Entrepreneurs and IBM.
Turn8 has invested in over 60 different startups at pre-seed level within its 7-year history in the UAE, and has an impressive roster of alumni. Overall, the company focuses on helping smaller startups grow from seed stage to scale stage, and their list of mentors is equally as impressive as their alumni list. Although they accept startups from a variety of industries, they try to hone in on companies with niche markets. This includes startups in the field of nanotechnology, 3D printing, storage solutions, and several others.