Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre launches new initiative to help food and health tech start-ups

To become eligible, start-ups must have a fully developed solution or a minimum viable product

Sheraa was launched in 2016 to support early stage tech ventures. Courtesy Sheraa
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The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) is launching an initiative to help regional start-ups within the health and food tech space, which are working to mitigate challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Called Ubuntu Care And Nurture, or ‘UCAN’, this initiative will choose the top start-ups within the segment and offer equity-free prizes worth $250,000 (Dh917,500) to eligible companies, Sheraa said in a statement on Monday.

“Through this initiative, we want to support start-ups whose unique health-tech and food-tech solutions are meeting the urgent needs of not just the communities they serve but the world at large,” Najla Al Midfa, chief executive of Sheraa, said.

“These talented change-makers are everywhere and we aim to ensure they have a platform that elevates the impact they are making,” she added.

The UCAN initiative is part of the #UbuntuLoveChallenge – a global movement founded by Sheraa chairperson Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi and Africa 2.0 Foundation founder Mamadou Kwidjim Toure – to inspire change-makers globally to help their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

To become eligible for the grants, start-ups must have a fully developed solution or a minimum viable product and should "showcase growth and impact, and be interested in expanding to the Mena market".

This initiative is looking for entrepreneurs working on developing innovations within the health-tech and the food-tech sectors, Sheraa said.

Finalists will be selected in both categories and they have to pitch their ventures to a jury of prominent industry experts, it added.

Winning start-ups in each track will be awarded a $100,000 grant each, while runners-up will receive a grant of $25,000 each.

“UCAN reinforces Sheraa’s commitment to fostering a vibrant culture of impactful entrepreneurship … we are excited to be expanding our efforts globally in partnership with the Ubuntu Love Challenge,” said Ms Midfa.

Earlier this month, Sheraa and the venture capital arm of Crescent Enterprises announced grants worth Dh700,000 to help start-ups cope with coronavirus-induced challenges.

It said that 11 start-ups in the retail, property, FinTech, travel and tourism, agriculture, education, technology and creative sectors had received equity-free grants.

In May, the centre created a $1 million Start-up Solidarity Fund to help start-ups struggling to cope with the impact of the coronavirus crisis.