Abu Dhabi: MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab and Hub71 have announced eight winners for the second edition of the Hub71 MENA Growth Competition.
The selected winners were drawn from a pool of MITEF Arab Start-up Competition semi-finalists of the past three editions (11th, 12th, and 13th edition).
Over 50 start-ups from across the MENA region applied for the chance to be accepted into the Abu Dhabi-based Hub71 Incentive Programme which includes 50 or 100 percent subsidized housing, office space, and medical insurance for founders and its employees for up to three years – worth up to AED3 million (US$800,000) in equity-free subsidies.
The Hub71 MENA Growth Competition, which also took place in 2019, is part of a bigger push to improve the opportunities for MENA-based tech startups who have collectively seen a 222 percent increase in startup investments between 2015 and 2018, showing the maturation of the tech ecosystem in the region.
The tech ecosystem based in the heart of Abu Dhabi also offers start-ups mentorship, global market potential, and capital through its network of strategic partners such as Mubadala, SoftBank Vision Fund, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Abu Dhabi Investment Office, and Microsoft.
The competition marks a new turning point for the MENA startup community which has seen a 67 percent decrease in the number of deals made in March 2020, compared to March 2019.
As startups look for improved access to capital, entrepreneurs have also realized the importance of strong and reliable ecosystems as well as favorable government policies that support startups during challenging times caused by the pandemic.
Hub71 has also recently announced a pandemic support package that would cover the housing and office space rent of all its existing 50+ startups’ employees for two months, which further solidifies the commitment from Abu Dhabi and Hub71 to support and grow its tech startup ecosystem.
Half of this year’s applicants are from Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia and are seed-stage startups. Sixty-three percent of applicants said they applied because of the equity-free incentives. Of the applicants, the top three sectors represented were HealthTech, AgriTech, and EdTech.
The competition culminated in an online demo day on 1st June 2020 where judges picked eight winners from ten finalists of this years’ Hub71 MENA Growth Competition 2.0.
Commenting on the demo day proceedings, Maya Rahal, Managing Director at MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, said, “Our alumni continue to prove they are adaptable to change and tenacious towards any obstacle they face. This year’s all-digital edition of the Hub71 MENA Growth Competition was truly a successful experiment for all of us.”
“MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab trusts that this year’s winners of the competition will maximize the use of the Hub71 Incentive Programme offered, in addition to being in the heart of a continuously evolving innovation hub in Abu Dhabi,” he said.
For his part, Nader Museitif, Head of Partnerships and Business Development at Hub71, said, “Abu Dhabi is increasingly proving to be a safe and appealing city for many MENA founders, so it was exciting to see so many bold, ambitious and inspiring MENA startups pitch for the opportunity to win a spot in the Hub71 Incentive Programme.
“From Abu Dhabi’s growing tech ecosystem, these startups will be taking their first steps into scaling their businesses. We are glad to have selected 8 startups from MIT Enterprise Forum from the UAE, Lebanon, Egypt, and Palestine; and we look forward to welcoming them into our growing global community.”