Technology companies Google and Microsoft listed new developments in their respective start-up accelerator programmes for the region as they continue to support budding entrepreneurs in their business journey.
Google, the world's biggest internet company, said it has selected 11 start-ups for the third Google for Start-ups Accelerator Middle East and North Africa event.
They were selected based on the basis of problems they are solving and how their products create value for users, in addition to their willingness to use machine learning to solve business challenges.
"We are excited to apply all the lessons in this coming [event] and help the participating start-ups scale up their solutions for local challenges using advanced technology," Salim Abid, regional lead of developer ecosystem at Google Mena, said on Wednesday.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia had the most start-ups in the cohort, with three apiece. Jordan and Egypt had two each while Tunisia had one. Of the total, five are either led or co-founded by women.
Representing the UAE at the Google programme's third cohort are mental health platform MindTales, digital freight service PalletPal and staycation planner Trippal.
Saudi Arabia has delivery service Jumlaty, quick-commerce platform Omniful and confectionery marketplace Qawafel.
Tourism service Sawwah and mothers' community platform 360Moms came from Jordan while education provider Orcas and food-ordering service Zyda represented Egypt. Telemedicine app SgharToon came from Tunisia.
Google's accelerator initiative will run online starting this week until the end of March. Selected start-ups will receive mentorship in key technology and will be connected with venture capital funds.
During the second cohort last July, Google selected 12 start-ups from six countries. The start-ups represented seven different sectors.
Last month, Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the Alphabet-owned internet company, announced a $1.3m fund that aims to equip women, people with disabilities and refugees in the Mena region with the digital skills needed to run businesses and improve their career opportunities.
Meanwhile, Microsoft concluded the first cohort of its GrowthX Accelerator programme with an online graduation event, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office.
The 15 start-ups from the initiative offered breakthrough solutions to meet corporate clients’ challenges and requirements, Microsoft said on Wednesday.
These include Poltio, Getbee, Gener8, Spitch, Barakatech, Hi55, Nymcard, Nexdegree, Udentify, Fero.ai, Ubrantz, Oplog, Artiwise, B2Brain and AlphaSense.
“As part of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to supporting the private sector, the emirate is putting the necessary resources behind our ambition to empower entrepreneurs,” said Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.
“Adio has partnered with Microsoft on the GrowthX Accelerator to give innovators a boost, helping their ideas find a launch pad to get off the ground. The solutions and technology created by the first cohort will accelerate innovation and drive greater impact.”
In the cohort, Microsoft partnered with Etihad Airways, Unilever, Flow, Akbank, KPMG, Ikea, Accenture, EY, Stanton Chase, Stripe, LinkedIn and GitHub.
"It has been exciting and inspiring to witness the passion, ingenuity and ambitious drive of the B2B start-ups through harnessing technology, embracing mentorship and gaining access to the market," Roberto Croci, managing director of Microsoft for Start-ups in the Middle East and Africa, said.
"We remain committed to making the region into an enriching environment of leading innovations and entrepreneurs taking on the global stage.”
The UAE has become a hotbed for start-ups, thanks to an abundance of venture capital, transparent policies, technology infrastructure and government initiatives.
Mena start-ups raised $1.2 billion in funding in the first half of 2021, 64 per cent higher than the previous year, with the UAE leading in terms of deals, accounting for 61 per cent of total investments, according to data platform Magnitt.
In the third quarter of 2021 alone, the capital raised by Mena-based start-ups was the second-highest quarterly funding amount recorded in the regional ecosystem after the previous three-month period.
Saudi Arabia led the Mena region in terms of new venture capital deals in the period ending September 2021, with the kingdom's start-ups securing 769 million riyals ($205m) from 91 deals, a 439 per cent surge from the previous year, Magnitt said.
The UAE also attracted 91 deals during the same period while Egypt had 96. Start-ups in the Mena region announced 23 exits at the end of the third quarter, it said.
Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet are among only six companies worldwide with a market capitalisation of $1 trillion.