Abu Dhabi's artificial intelligence and cloud computing company G42 will be the lead investor in the latest funding round of $500 million for Dubai-based consumer technology development and investment company Astra Tech.
The funding round, which started in October, will be closing soon, Astra Tech said in a statement on Monday, without disclosing the exact timetable and details of other investors.
“Backed by prominent global and regional investors, the round is meant to equip Astra Tech with the resources to expand its portfolio of smart solutions across e-commerce, communications, FinTech, news and more,” the company said.
Founded in January, Astra Tech is also building an “ultra platform” that aims to simplify the way people communicate, shop, pay and transact. The platform will allow businesses and vendors worldwide to seamlessly connect with customers across a variety of services and products in a single, interconnected ecosystem, eliminating the complexity of using different apps.
“We are continuously seeking to combine exceptional human talent with the necessary technical and financial resources to enable the development of the most advanced AI powered-solutions for both the public and private sectors,” said Peng Xiao, group chief executive of G42.
“We are pleased to be supporting Astra Tech with its latest round of funding, one that will establish it as the go-to regional platform for consumer technology and services."
The start-up ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa region has received a strong boost in recent years as entrepreneurs tap into innovation to address consumer needs.
Funding for start-ups in the UAE — one of the top destinations for venture capital investments in the Mena region — rose by about 5 per cent in the third quarter to $148 million, according to data platform Magnitt.
Earlier this month, the Emirates also launched a new programme aimed at supporting and honouring the top 100 start-ups that will have a significant impact on the country's economy and boost its readiness for the future.
The Future 100 initiative will support new economic sectors such as space, renewable energy and emerging technology, which will shape the country's future economy, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Governmental Development and Future said at its launch.
“Our disruptive next generation ultra platform will bring together selected consumer technologies, products, and services and is specifically designed to address the platform fatigue many users are experiencing today,” said Abdallah Abu Sheikh, founder and chief executive of Astra Tech.
“We continuously seek to align with the national drive for digital transformation by delivering an innovative and revolutionary ecosystem, something beyond what the super platforms of today have to offer,” said Mr Abu Sheikh. The Jordanian entrepreneur is also the founder of other start-ups such as Rizek and Bark EV, an electric vehicle company.
A super platform is an ecosystem of many apps that are either built together or bundled through third-party integrations. They usually work with freelancers and small and medium enterprise service providers to improve their skills and help them land more opportunities.
Astra Tech's ultra platform intends to provide connectivity between consumers and businesses, enabling users to access home, e-commerce and FinTech services within one place, three times faster than through competing platforms, the company said.