Majid Al Futtaim, one of Dubai's biggest private sector companies and the Middle East's largest mall operator, has revealed the companies that have successfully joined its accelerator programme.
Under the company's Launchpad initiative, 14 start-ups and small and medium enterprises will receive monetary incentives, mentorship, networking opportunities and other benefits, in partnership with digital ecosystem builder AstroLabs and Microsoft, Majid Al Futtaim said on Friday.
The companies were shortlisted from a pool of 196 applications, with half of the entities admitted into the programme ― which focuses on home-grown brands, property technology and the health and beauty sector — run by women entrepreneurs.
“The Majid Al Futtaim Launchpad initiative is a vital element of our ecosystem, nurturing entrepreneurship and supporting SMEs in the pursuit of innovation, creativity and growth," Joe Abi Akl, chief corporate development officer of Majid Al Futtaim Holding, said.
The move is a "critical step forward in our mission to support small businesses in their journey to create new products and services that could ultimately become our business partners and suppliers in the future", he said.
The start-up sector has grown exponentially over the past few years as entrepreneurs use innovation to address consumer needs. They are also increasingly seeking funding from global investors to accelerate their development.
The sector's growth has risen in tandem with the increase in digitalisation in key sectors such as retail, services, e-commerce and government.
The first round of the Launchpad programme will focus on supporting core growth areas, all underlined by the use of new technologies to help businesses realise their ideas and grow their operations.
Each segment will focus on specific objectives. Home-grown brands aim to attract start-ups by focusing on culture, heritage, sustainability and innovation, while those in health and beauty will help elevate start-ups with solutions tailored to boost customer experience, the company said.
PropTech — an area in which Majid Al Futtaim is heavily involved — will offer sustainable solutions to help optimise the efficiency of construction, enhance shopping mall experiences, and digitalise property development, residential communities and hotel spaces.
Launchpad will help companies strategically expand into new markets, customer segments and channels in the Middle East and North Africa by plugging "future-forward companies into Majid Al Futtaim’s value chain", said Roland Daher, chief executive of AstroLabs.
Majid Al Futtaim worked closely with AstroLabs to identify market opportunities for these emerging businesses, he added.
Dubai-based conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim, whose portfolio spans retail, leisure and ventures, reported an 18 per cent increase in its first-half earnings as a sharp rebound in retail and leisure sectors amid steady economic recovery boosted revenue.
It is the owner and operator of City Centre malls across the region, as well as its flagship Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.
AstroLabs, founded in 2013, helps companies build their technology ecosystem and upskill employees with custom programmes. It counts corporates, universities and government entities among its clients, according to its website.