ADGM is a thriving and highly supportive business hub for tech start-ups and innovators who are interested in accessing the market potential in Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the wider region. ADGM offers a tailored, incentivised licence scheme that enables entrepreneurs to grow and rapidly scale their business in a vibrant ecosystem with internationally recognised and progressive regulations, access to strong regional economy and a highly skilled talent pool.
ADGM Tech Start-up Licence
ADGM's incentivised Tech Start-up Licence enables entrepreneurs to set up in the UAE at a very competitive cost. The scheme categorises two stages for start-ups; seed stage and emergent stage, during which the ADGM licence fee is incentivised (discounted) for up to five years of operation in ADGM.
The ADGM Tech Start-Up Licence is not available for technology service providers.
Start-up stages, criteria and incentive benefits
|Stage of maturity||Number of FTEs*||1 - 10||11 - 50|
|Year since first registration in UAE||Does not exceed three (3) years||Does not exceed five (5) years|
|Incentive packages||Incentivised licence fee||USD 700 P.A.||USD 4,000 P.A.|
|Duration of incentive||2 Years||3 Years|
|Office space requirements||1 Desk space+ in an incubator / co-working space domiciled in ADGM||1 Desk space+ in an incubator / co-working space domiciled in ADGM|
|Visa eligibility||1.5 Visas for every desk space||1.5 Visas for every desk space|
* FTEs: Full time employees + Dedicated office or desk is required.
Eligibility for the incentivised licence is determined at the time of application and the duration is fixed. eg if a start-up is approved for the seed stage incentivised licence, it will have two years in seed stage and will automatically move into the emergent stage in its third year of operations in ADGM regardless of the number of full time employees.
Who can apply?
- Local, regional and international start-ups
- Start-ups with an innovative tech business model that leverage technology as the main platform to solve customer challenges and provides products and services that meet specific market needs
- Tech start-ups with the potential to scale regionally
- Tech start-ups with product/market fit that supports sustainable economic development
- A business model must fall within the ADGM regulation remit and business structures – see FAQs
Tech Start-up Licence benefits
The range of benefits of the Tech Start-up Commercial Licence include:
- Sector agnostic
- Operational commercial licence
- Low annual licence fees for up to the first 5 years of operations in ADGM:
- seed stage annual fee USD 700 (can be renewed once)
- emergent stage annual fee USD 4,000 (can be renewed twice)
- 1.5 visas for every desk space
- Eligible* to apply to Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development for dual licence recognition (needs to meet criteria, see FAQs)
- Potential access to funding and equity-free incentive programmes
- Potential access to accelerator programmes based in ADGM including Hub71, Plug & Play and others
- Access to local and international entrepreneurial experts
- An independent jurisdiction with an internationally recognised English common law framework
Abu Dhabi is an ideal launch pad for tech start-ups
The economic powerhouse of the UAE, Abu Dhabi has a strong and clear innovation and SME strategy.
Multi-billion Dirham commitment
Abu Dhabi has recently renewed its commitment to supporting innovation, committing substantial capital to supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs.
The UAE has a thriving community of entrepreneurs with 70 percent of MENA start-ups based in the UAE.
Home to global players
Already a well-established business hub, Abu Dhabi is represented by some of the largest companies in the world, across the breadth of the private sector.
Access to markets
Abu Dhabi is the ideal location to expand your business regionally.
Exceptional standard of living
Abu Dhabi offers an excellent standard of living, with outstanding leisure facilities, health care and schools, providing the ideal environment for you and your employees.
Why choose ADGM as a hub for your tech start-up
Access to investors
ADGM features a growing community of venture capital firms, banks, financiers and investors to provide capital for your company's growth.
ADGM benefits from a strong network government and leading industry partners to support the growth and development of start-up business.
Up to 3 year visa
1.5 Visas for every dedicated desk space.
The ADGM Tech Start-up Licence is sector agnostic, available to all tech start-ups.
ADGM's Tech Start-up Licence is incentivised for up to the first 5 years of operations in ADGM.
Rule of law
A strong rule of law through the direct application of English common law, strong judiciary, speed of judgment facilitated by world's first e-courts, seat of arbitration, and a strong system of enforceability of judgments.
If you have questions or need any assistance, we're here to help.
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