Young Middle East entrepreneurs to pitch for up to $250,000 in seed funding

The new UAE initiative could support 10 early stage ventures with finance and mentorship

The event, set to be held in Dubai this year, will see 10 regional startups introduced to angel investors willing to inject seed funding to help launch or scale up the businesses. Getty
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Ten young entrepreneurs could secure between $50,000 to $250,000 (Dh183,700 to Dh918,300) in funding via a new investor day held by the University of Manchester Middle East Centre and the start-up programme UAEpreneur.

The event in Dubai on March 5 will introduce 10 regional start-up entrepreneurs - between the ages of 20 to 35 - to angel investors willing to inject seed funding to help launch or scale up the businesses.

Randa Bessiso, Middle East director at The University of Manchester in Dubai, said the education institution recognises “the very powerful attraction of entrepreneurial careers among professionals across the Middle East”.

Venture capital activity in the Mena region hit record levels last year, up 31 per cent, totalling $893 million compared to 2017, start-up community platform Magnitt said in a report this month.

In January, venture capital company Wamda Group launched Wamda X, which offers pre-seed funding to early stage start-ups – particularly entrepreneurs, who may still be in day jobs that rely on family and friends to bootstrap their trial period.

Under this latest funding drive from UAEpreneur, an initiative of Dubai incubator Innovest Middle East, the University of Manchester has screened and selected the 10 winners, who are now receiving professional development opportunities.

The university said many of the start-ups, which are from across the GCC and wider Middle East region, are digital businesses targeting the B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) sectors.

Moatassem Moatez, partner at Innovest Middle East, said: “Our focus is on younger entrepreneurs and a practical approach to getting them the support, finance and skills they need to succeed. Our commitment goes beyond matching start-ups to investors and Innovest will offer additional professional support to the winning start-ups.”

Mr Moatez said how much each start-up receives at the investor day will depend "on the business valuation and the level of partnership with the venture".

The competition was open to entrepreneurs at idea or early launch phase with a viable product or service catered towards the Middle East region and a detailed business plan. The initiative was launched at the end of 2018, with the March event the first cycle of the investor day, with more planned in the future.