Dubai: Regional technology entrepreneurs are getting more space to grow as AstroLabs and Dubai Investment Development Agency team up to open a new hub at the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre in April.
AstroLabs is a member of the 20 global tech hub networks of ‘Google for Entrepreneurs’ and the only hub in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
Under the concept, a collaborative co-working space and educational centre is provided at Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) to support the start-ups.
“It is part of our strategy to support and make Dubai the hub for innovation. We are joining forces to accelerate the growth of start-up companies and jointly drive investment into high-growth sectors,” Fahad Al Gergawi, chief executive officer of Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED), told Gulf News.
“We are not an investor, but we are going to support and facilitate the process and bridge the gap between good ideas and actual investments to attain economic growth through the growth of the sector, which leads to knowledge transfer, talent attraction and job creation,” he said.
Dubai FDI will connect AstroLabs to companies interested in being part of the innovation ecosystem. AstroLabs on its part will serve as a growth platform for technology companies looking to set up in Dubai with support from Dubai FDI and expand to promising markets through Dubai.
“Our local knowledge and experience in addressing the global investor community along with the strategic resources of AstroLabs can respond successfully to the demands of the new business and investment landscape worldwide and in Dubai particularly,” Al Gergawi said.
Mohammad Mekki, founding partner of AstroLabs, said the partnership aims to raise the profile of Dubai as a best destination for global start-ups to expand into emerging markets.
The applications have started pouring in couple of months ago and the demand has been “overwhelming” from across the region.
“We are facilitating to lower the barriers to entry to Dubai investment environment to encourage creativity and innovation. We are building the facility right now and go live in April this year. We have been very selective and the screening process is going on,” he said.
The 6,500-square-foot facility can hold up to 100 start-ups in the first phase and the fee ranges from Dh1,500 to Dh3,000 a month.
Regarding funding, Louis Lebbos, founding partner of Astrolabs, said the funding is to come from angel investors and venture capital funds existing in the region or to be opened up in the region.
“We will be creating a vehicle where they [investors] can get exposure to opportunities to high-tech ventures,” he said.
Astrolabs has tied up with Nasscom of India recently to navigate Indian tech start-ups to the Mena region. Other partnerships are with Russia, Pakistan and Turkey.
Mekki said that there is a momentum for tech start-ups in Dubai than anywhere else in the world.
When asked about the rising floor space, Al Gergawi said that Dubai is not the cheapest place in the region to start a business but they [businesses] know that “visibility and connectivity” is what makes it up for them to grow than any other places.