More than 600 start-ups and small businesses from around the world are vying for a chance to be the first tenants of District 2020, which will open in October.
When Expo 2020 Dubai ends on March 31, the 4.38 square-kilometre area will be repurposed to host 145,000 residents and workers with budding businesses as well as multinational corporations setting up operations in the mixed-use neighbourhood.
The start-ups are being selected from 628 businesses shortlisted after more than 3,000 registrations were received from 129 countries.
Tala Al Ansari, director of Scale2Dubai — District 2020s entrepreneur programme — described the new community as an “ideal home”.
“This is a great stride towards our goals of supporting the start-up ecosystem in Dubai, which will provide an ideal home for these businesses at District 2020,” she said.
“Each application will now be reviewed by a panel of technically qualified judges and more than 80 selected start-ups and small businesses will join District 2020 when we open doors in October this year.”
Among the criteria for selection was that the start-up should already have been operational for at least two years, with one paying customer and an existing solution.
The Scale2Dubai programme will announce the final list of successful start-ups in March, before the world’s fair ends.
Before the Expo began in October, officials had announced Siemens as the first official tenant with plans for a global logistics hub in District 2020.
DP World and China’s Terminus Technologies are among the other companies that will have a presence in the area.
About 80 per cent of Expo-built structures will be retained in a community that is being billed as an attractive innovation hub that will encourage collaboration between large conglomerates and new businesses.
Plans for walking paths, cycling and jogging tracks, as well as self-driving vehicle zones have been recently revealed as part of the UAE's first 15-minute city.
The community will be a hub for entertainment and education as several structures will remain, including Al Wasl Plaza, the dome at the heart of the world’s fair.
The green Sustainability pavilion will be turned into a children’s centre and science zone and the Dubai Exhibition Centre right by the metro station will act as a venue for major events such as international trade fairs.