Nearly 95% of the companies operating in Dubai are SMEs, and they employ 42% of the workforce in the private sector. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) announced the commencement of Sandbox, the region’s first-of-its-kind startup programme to support early-stage technology startups scale and raise funds, on Tuesday.

Launched at Gitex Future Stars in October 2021, the programme has received more than 600 applications from startups and entrepreneurs within four months of its launch.

Twelve applicants, all operating in tech-focused fields, have been accepted to join the 12-month programme, run by the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus, DSO’s tech hub and co-working space.

Dr. Juma Al Matrooshi, Director General of Dubai Silicon Oasis, said the programme supports startups, especially those developing promising tech-driven innovations, to have a fighting chance.

“Nearly 95 per cent of the companies operating in Dubai are SMEs, and they employ 42 per cent of the workforce in the private sector. Nonetheless, there is a gap in funding for early-stage startups and entrepreneurs. This programme addresses precisely that requirement.”

The 12 startups will follow a structured curriculum inclusive of theoretical and practical workshops, mentorship sessions, and networking opportunities designed to help them grow. Participants will benefit from 200+ hours of practical workshops across the six pillars, and 100+ hours of one-on-one mentorship from practitioners and field experts.