Start-ups will help the UAE double its GDP by 2031, Ministry of Economy says

Future 100 initiative joins hands with 25 partners to enhance the future readiness of SMEs

Abdulla bin Touq, Minister of Economy, said Future 100 will support promising small and medium enterprises that are contributing to the UAE’s future economy. Antonie Robertson / The National
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The development of start-ups’ contribution to the economy will help achieve the target of doubling the UAE's gross domestic product by 2031, the Minister of Economy has said.

The Future 100 initiative will identify, honour and support promising small and medium enterprises that are contributing to the UAE’s future economic sectors, Abdulla bin Touq said in Dubai last week.

He was speaking at an event organised by the Ministry of Economy and Government Development and the Future Office to sign strategic partnerships with the private sector to support the initiative.

“The initiative champions the UAE’s economic sectors that will shape the economic landscape, with particular focus on nurturing the start-up sector,” Mr bin Touq said.

“Our objectives are very clear: accelerate the growth of SMEs into the future economy and stimulate private investment in the future economy.

“Through the initiative, we aim to provide fast access to investors, regulators and the business community, and offer support in terms of funding, legal advice, commercial assistance and capacity building.”

The programme was launched in December and aims to support and annually honour the top 100 start-ups that will have a significant impact on the UAE’s economy and boost its readiness for the future.

The Future 100 initiative will support start-ups in new and emerging industries like advanced manufacturing, FinTech, intelligent mobility, biotechnology, entertainment/streaming, space, renewable energy, cyber security, blockchain, 3D printing, e-commerce, Metaverse, on-demand economy, robotics, Web3, Internet of Things and sharing economy.

The focus will be both on native UAE companies and international businesses with a base in the UAE.

The start-ups will be assessed based on creative capacity, market potential, business viability/scalability, and environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact.

To achieve the goals of the future economy, the government has launched initiatives, including the UAE Centennial 2071 road map, the Emirates Blockchain Strategy, the Green Growth Strategy, the Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Circular Economy Policy, the National Programme for Artificial Intelligence 2031 and the Energy Strategy 2050.

“The Future 100 initiative is an integral part of our growth strategy to transform our economy, enhance its resilience and ensure future sustainability,” Mr bin Touq said.

“Each year, we will shine a spotlight on the top 100 companies that foster the competitiveness of our future economic sectors. We will announce the names of the pioneering companies on December 2.”

The initiative will help build partnerships between the public and private sectors. These partnerships will provide incentives, investment opportunities, acceleration support, technical and legal guidance, competitive financing solutions as well as workshops on intellectual property rights and trademarks, the minister added.

The initiative has brought in 25 new strategic, acceleration and community partners to support 100 emerging companies that are future-focused, enhance the competitiveness of new sectors, and help prepare the country for the future, according to Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and the Future.

“As we navigate an era of great challenges and even greater opportunities, we must ensure that future readiness is the central force driving everything we do,” the minister said.

“In our vision for 2031, we have set ambitious goals and measurable targets on all fronts for the next decade, including becoming one of the top 10 countries globally in future readiness.

“The vision focuses on key areas of importance to the UAE spanning health, education, economy, environmental sustainability and technology. Future 100 is a key initiative towards achieving our vision.”

The National Corporate Social Responsibility Fund (Majra) is the strategic partner for the Future 100 initiative, while acceleration partners include Microsoft, Emirates NBD, Dubai Future District Fund, Department of Economic Development, FTI Consulting, Careem and Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund.

Community partners include AstroLabs, Abu Dhabi SME Hub, Hub71, Flat6Labs, VentureSouq, Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone, Mashreq and Middle East Venture Capital Association, among others.

The UAE aims to become home to 20 start-ups valued at more than $1 billion by 2031, in its push to become a regional centre for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The industry received a further boost last October when the Ministry of Economy launched its updated Entrepreneurial Nation programme, which seeks to develop more than 8,000 SMEs and start-ups by 2030.

Updated: September 24, 2023, 9:13 AM