Abu Dhabi's Shorooq Partners launches region's first GameTech founder-focused platform

The SHFT Build initiative aims to support entrepreneurs

Shorooq Partners' SHFT Build is being backed by Amazon Web Services, Abu Dhabi Gaming, Sharjah Media City, Unity Technologies and regional companies. Photo: Shorooq

Shorooq Partners, an Abu Dhabi-based venture capital firm, launched SHFT Build, a founder programme for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan (Menap) region, aimed at supporting entrepreneurs.

The first edition of the programme will come at zero cost and zero equity for start-up founders, and will be focused on gaming technology, making it the first such platform in Menap, Shorooq Partners said.

The programme is being backed by Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing unit of the world's biggest e-marketplace, local entities Abu Dhabi Gaming and Sharjah Media City, game engine platform Unity Technologies, and regional companies Tamatem Games, Nifty Craft, Batal Gaming and Calyx.

"As investors, we have always played a proactive role in developing ecosystems within our core markets. SHFT as a platform was built to develop ecosystems around industries that are driving tomorrow's economy," Mahmoud Adi, founding partner of Shorooq Partners, said.

"This is to accelerate their development and support corporations, governments and founders to leverage opportunities presented by such industries."

The gaming market is booming worldwide after receiving a boost amid Covid-19 lockdowns over the past two years, and has become a lucrative business sector.

Globally, the industry has about three billion participants, according to gaming data provider Newzoo.

The market is expected to be valued at $339.95 billion by 2027, from $198.4bn in 2021 at a compound annual rate of 9 per cent, data from Mordor Intelligence shows.

Gaming market revenue in Mena and Turkey surged 15 per cent annually to $6.5bn in 2021, which is one of the highest in the world, according to RedSeer research released in January. The UAE, in particular, has become a gaming hotbed with mobile gamers on the rise. The Emirates was also ranked fifth globally for gaming influencers, according to a recent study by YouGov.

Participants of SHFT Build will be able to connect with teams who are developing technologies that are enhancing game efficiency, security, development and accessibility, all of which are expected to contribute to a holistic ecosystem.

SHFT Build will support founders looking to build start-ups in industries driven by frontier technology, such as GameTech, Web3 and blockchain applications, as well as CleanTech and ClimateTech, Shorooq said.

Game studios, developers, distribution platforms, developers of game engines and streaming platforms are encouraged to apply, with SHFT Build accepting founders from across the globe, it added.

Gaming is among the sectors highlighted in the Creatives Journey initiative, a major programme launched by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and the Department of Economy and Tourism in December to support the creative economy.

The top 15 venture capital funds dedicated to gaming have about $5bn in assets under management as of this week — double what they had in mid-December — according to advisory firm Games One.

In December, Abu Dhabi Gaming and Mubadala Investment Company, the emirate's strategic investment arm, signed a preliminary agreement to develop an eSports ecosystem in Abu Dhabi in a bid to attract global talent and boost the local creative industry.

Founded in 2017, Shorooq Partners is the first regional VC company to be regulated by the Abu Dhabi Global Market and invests in Menap start-ups.

Last month, the company launched Bedaya Fund II, a $150 million fund aimed at supporting early-stage Menap start-ups that are active in FinTech, software, platform verticals and digital assets.

Updated: April 20, 2022, 10:16 AM