x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Intel invests in UAE start-up

Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of the world's largest computer chip maker, has announced it has invested in a UAE technology company.

Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of the world's largest computer chip maker, has announced it has invested in a UAE technology company, the sixth investment it has made in the Middle East this year. The fund said it had supplied an undisclosed amount of institutional capital for NeuString, a firm based in the Jebel Ali Free Zone that performs real-time analysis for telecommunications operators to help manage mobile traffic more effectively.

"The traffic of the transactional call events is a huge number, with billions of mobile subscriber call events," said Nikolaj Aertebjerg, the chief executive of NeuString. "We take all this data, process it and not only make it meaningful for decision making but for real-time monitoring, so operators can analyse that and control that." Shortly after NeuString was established in April last year, it approached Intel to use its servers for its complex calculations, Mr Aertebjerg said. After working together for most of the year, Intel Capital's partners recognised NeuString's potential and decided to invest in it. Feroz Sanaulla, the Intel Capital director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, said the deal was part of a US$25 million (Dh91.8m) total investment package it made to seven technology start-ups around the world.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed but Mr Aertebjerg said Intel Capital would take a minority stake in NeuString and the other companies. He said he would use Intel Capital's investment to expand the company's product portfolios and sales reach. NeuString is based in Dubai but also has offices in Copenhagen, Russia and the Ukraine, and employs about 25 people. Mr Aertebjerg declined to say how many clients the company had or how much it had made in annual sales, but said he expected revenues would quadruple in the next year. Intel Capital has invested in a number of Middle East technology companies, including four firms in Dubai and two in Jordan.

The region's technology community was in the spotlight recently after the acquisition of Maktoob by the online giant Yahoo in August. "Maktoob has really set a tone to the overall entrepreneurial community in the Middle East that exits are possible and that global investors have been extremely interested in the Arab world in respect to securing assets and companies that have followed," Mr Sanaulla said.

"This deal that has been done by Yahoo and Maktoob will only be a precursor and a starting point. I look at it as a catalyst, a starting point and I tell you, you ain't seen nothing yet." Mr Sanaulla said Intel Capital remained extremely interested in developing start-up companies. "We have looked at companies that are coming up in the region that will provide significant exits hopefully in the future - that will clearly overshadow Yahoo and Maktoob," he said.