Abu Dhabi's Hub71 teams up with MIT to boost UAE's tech start-up scene

The partnership will attract global entrepreneurs and investments to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi business incubator Hub71 – an initiative of Mubadala Investment Company, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Microsoft and SoftBank – joined forces with the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab on Wednesday to strengthen the region's entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Mahmoud Adi, head of Hub71, said the partnership with MITEF Pan Arab, one of a number of global chapters of the MIT Enterprise Forum from the US that promotes start-ups and breakthrough ideas, will help the incubator  achieve its ambition to be a global "launchpad" for innovation.

It is "harder" to find pathways to scale a start-up in the region, Mr Adi said.

“With Hub71’s unique combination of access to capital, local and global networks, and major technology and business partners coupled with an attractive regulatory environment, we can make that next step easier," he added.

Hub71  is an initiative of the Ghadan 21 programme,  a Dh50 billion package of reforms in Abu Dhabi meant to create an environment where tech entrepreneurs can thrive.

Investment in Mena enterprises more than doubled between 2015 and 2018, according to the start-up community platform Magnitt, which tallied 404 deals across the Arab world last year.

Under the partnership with Hub71, MITEF Pan Arab will use its alumni network to bring new tech entrepreneurs to Abu Dhabi, who can contribute to the growth of the emirate's start-up ecosystem.

“Since we started in 2005, MITEF Pan Arab contributed to shifting the mindset of thousands of Arabs towards entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Hala Fadel, chairwoman of MITEF Pan Arab.

Last month, Abu Dhabi rolled out a Dh535 million fund to invest in start-ups as part of the government's Ghadan 21 programme.

The Ghadan Ventures Fund, managed by state-run Abu Dhabi Investment Office (Adio), has two programmes to boost venture capital available to Abu Dhabi-based start-ups and attract new fund managers to operate in the emirate.

"We are helping new venture capitalists establish in Abu Dhabi to ensure local start-ups have access to more investors, whilst also driving the establishment and growth of start-ups in Abu Dhabi by increasing the amount of investment capital available in the market," Elham AlQasim, chief executive of Adio and executive director of Ghadan 21 programme, said at the time.