The Ministry of Economy announced the results of the final round of the Startup Leap competition, which was launched in November 2021 under the StartUp program of the Entrepreneurial Nation, the country’s largest-ever project aimed at developing the entrepreneurship system and attracting successful and innovative entrepreneurial projects. The initiative features a comprehensive portal that provides an integrated set of solutions, opportunities, incentives, and initiatives based on the largest of its kind public-private sector partnerships.
During the announcement of the results, H.E. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, confirmed that the UAE has succeeded in enhancing its position as a preferred destination for innovative, leading startups and SMEs in the region and the world, thanks to the vision and support of its wise leadership. He added that the country continues to develop its economy to become the destination of choice for entrepreneurship and attract outstanding startups from various markets around the world, with a clear vision and integrated strategies derived from the goals and principles of the 50.
The competition, which mainly targeted regional and global startups who wish to set up operations and expand in the UAE, attracted more than 1,200 companies from 33 countries around the world to compete for the opportunity to win the incentive package it offers to the winners.
H.E. Al Falasi explained: “The results of the competition reflect the great interest of startups and projects with pioneering and innovative ideas from various regional and state markets in moving to the UAE to work, prosper, and utilize it as a base for their regional and global expansion. Meanwhile, we continue our efforts to establish the UAE as a prime destination for companies and innovative startups that enables entrepreneurs to achieve success and growth in various vital and future sectors. This direction is a key focus area in the wise leadership’s vision and one of the priorities of economic efforts in the coming period.”
The Ministry explained that the competition featured several rounds since its launch, with 36 candidates shortlisted out of the total 1,200 applicants in the first stage according to specific criteria. In the second stage, 20 candidates or companies from 8 countries – the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, the UK, and the USA – were selected for the final round by the Ministry. These companies operate in several new and future economy areas including digital technologies, modern agriculture technology, advanced education techniques, clean and renewable energy and green technology, e-commerce, health care, and fintech.
The 20 finalists will receive the opportunity for intensive training in collaboration with leading global companies in several empowerment areas that enhance the performance of startups and SMEs. The training sessions will cover several topics such as understanding venture capital and aligning resources with co-founders’ requirements, development of alternative plans, and employment of digital marketing to accelerate growth. The final round will see the presentations of the 20 shortlisted companies before a jury chaired by H.E. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, consisting of representatives of some of the leading business entities, which will select three winners out of the 20 finalists.
The Ministry added that the range of incentives and benefits awaiting the three winning companies, as well as the final companies nominated by the jury, include golden visas for founders, office space, highest levels of training and supervision, media and brand establishment support, business development services, exemption from employee visa costs, employment, and related costs, and support in securing financing and loans.
The selection of participants was based on several criteria, which required them to be legally registered; profitable; have at least two founders, and preferably pre-funded. It also requires the co-founders to be willing to move the company’s primary headquarters to the UAE. Besides, the company must be in the operational stage for at least one year, already delivering products or services in the market.
The Ministry of Economy launched the Entrepreneurial Nation project in November 2021 within the framework of the ‘Projects of the 50’ to serve as a comprehensive portal aimed at the development of entrepreneurship and enhancing the UAE’s position as the most attractive destination for entrepreneurs and leading enterprises in the world. It aims to consolidate the culture of entrepreneurship in the country and provide solutions, learning opportunities, and incentives through three key axes with several tracks as a first stage, based on the largest public-private partnerships of their kind. The initiative contributes to driving a qualitative shift in the system supporting entrepreneurial and business prosperity, thus supporting the objectives of the UAE’s new economy. These axes are the SkillUp academy which equips entrepreneurs with the skills required in the world of entrepreneurship and the methodology for their successful application on the ground; StartUp, which aims to create success stories and help entrepreneurs navigate the world of startups; and ScaleUp, which supports eligible companies in growth and expansion to become Unicorns.