Dubai Chamber start-up hub membership trebles on uptick in digital transformation

The 236 per cent surge is underpinned by growth in the number of start-ups looking to tap rising appetite for digital solutions

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, June 09: Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry building in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Stock
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Dubai Start-up Hub, an initiative of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recorded a trebling of membership in the first six months of this year, accelerated by the emirate’s push for digital transformation.

The 236 per cent surge was underpinned by growth in the number of start-ups in Dubai and abroad looking to capitalise on opportunities to bring more digital solutions to the emirate, the Middle East's business and financial hub, the DCCI said in a statement on Sunday.

Membership of the hub climbed to 1,568 at the end of June this year, from 466 recorded in the same period last year. It grew 13 per cent on average per month in the first half, the trade body said.

Some 1,200 entrepreneurs benefitted from the start-up hub’s support programmes during the first six months of the year, pushing the total number of beneficiaries to more than 8,200. Emiratis accounted for a quarter of all beneficiaries in first half.

About 30 Emirati entrepreneurs are now close to launching their own businesses after graduating from the first-ever Emirati Development Programme rolled out earlier this year, the DCCI said.

The performance reflects the strong entrepreneurial spirit that exists in the UAE, as well as the “crucial role” that start-ups are playing in bringing unique business concepts that fill market gaps, Hamad Buamim, president and chief executive of the trade body said.

In the wake of Covid-19’s impact on the business landscape, the DCCI has reshaped its support offerings and resources to meet the evolving needs of start-ups.

Despite new challenges posed by Covid-19 the “pandemic has created an opportunity for technology start-ups”, in particular, Mr Buamim said.

The hub also collaborated with more than 70 business incubators across the world during the first half of 2020, including India, the US, the UK, Russia, Hungary, Germany and China. More than 50 per cent of applications for its core programme were from international start-ups. The trade body is coordinating its international offices to attract more high-potential businesses to the Dubai market, it said.

Among new members, the start-up hub attracted a large volume of high-potential business ventures specialising in FinTech, HealthTech, education, e-commerce, sustainability, wellness and supply chains that emerged in response to changing market conditions, signalling a resurgence in entrepreneurial activity.

Earlier this month, the Dubai Start-up Hub rolled out a programme to help start-ups expand into new markets. Called Scale-Up Dubai, the initiative is an extension of the hub's existing Market Access programme that facilitates partnerships between start-ups and corporates in the emirate.

Selected start-ups that have already developed viable businesses and have benefitted from the Market Access programme have joined the initiative.