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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

UAE start-ups account for 88% of regional deal value, says Economy Ministry initiative

According to Aim start-up, local services, e-commerce and financial services account for nearly half of the deal count last year

Sectors such as fintech, cybersecurity and Blockchain will see greater representation at this year's AIM event, say organisers. Satish Kumar / The National
Sectors such as fintech, cybersecurity and Blockchain will see greater representation at this year's AIM event, say organisers. Satish Kumar / The National

Start-ups in the UAE secured $31.36 million (Dh115.2m) in investment last year, accounting for 88 per cent of the entire deal value in the region.

According to an initiative set up by the Ministry of Economy, local services, e-commerce and financial services, account for nearly half of the deal count (44 per cent), with logistics, software, media, education and transportation comprising the remaining, according to data from Aim Start-up.

Deal value refers to the amount paid by an acquirer for an equity stake in a targeted asset, plus the value of the net debt in that entity.

“The start-up ecosystem is fast changing. Just a few years ago, start-ups seemed like the purview of a niche circle, but fast forward today, and start-ups are hitting the mainstream business culture, emerging at an unprecedented rate,” said Dawood Al Shezawi, chairman of the organising committee of Aim Start-up, an Economy Ministry initiative.

Venture capital activity in the Mena region grew 31 per cent in 2018 from 2017, with 366 investments amounting to $893m in funding, start-up community platform Magnitt found in its January Mena Venture Investment Report.

This year’s Annual Investment Meeting in Dubai, set to run from April 8 until 10, will feature 500 start-ups, double the number from last year.

The event received approximately 600 applications last year, of which 250 exhibited and 50 entered the pitch competition. This year, of the thousands of applicants, 500 will exhibit and 120 will be able to pitch their ideas to investors and

incubators.

Of the 500 start-ups competing, Aim Start-up wants 20 per cent to come from the UAE. Five winners will receive $10,000 (Dh36,731) each in seed money to support their project.

Applications for the event are still open.

Sectors such as FinTech, cyber security and Blockchain have had “unprecedented growth” in the UAE start-up scene, said the organisers.

“Disruptive technologies such as robotics, virtual reality and Internet of Things are already transforming the start-up landscape, and we are confident that coming years will witness greater results, considering the impactful growth tech start-ups have made,” said

Mr Al Shezawi.

Now in its ninth year, Aim Start-up is the largest global gathering of corporate leaders, policymakers, regional and international investors, entrepreneurs, academics and experts to discuss information and strategies on attracting foreign direct investment.

Last year, the event attracted more than 20,000 participants from more than 140 countries.

Updated: March 17, 2019 10:36 AM

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