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What makes Abu Dhabi such fertile ground for startups and SMEs?

26 July 2020 by Richard Teng CEO, ADGM Financial Services Regulatory Authority

Abu Dhabi transforms the startup and venture funding ecosystem in the region through progressive VC regulatory framework and key initiatives

With a dynamic young demographic and one of the fastest population growth in the world, the MEASA region will contribute significantly to global economic growth going forward. It is a fertile ground for startups and SMEs to anchor their growth.

Attracted by MEASA opportunities across sectors, including FinTech, HealthTech and Agritech, venture capital (VC) firms are expanding rapidly in the region.  The COVID-19 pandemic provided greater urgency to develop a vibrant startup and funding ecosystem to support investment by VCs into startups and SMEs.

VCs seeks a sound regulatory regime as well as strong connectivity networks to thrive. Abu Dhabi is leading the way in the MEASA region with the ADGM introducing a first-in-the-region tailored regulatory framework that simplifies the licensing process for VC managers while upholding standards. As a result, ADGM has seen record growth in the number of VCs licensed and seeking to be licensed in 2020. Other than a progressive regulatory regime, the collective effort of Abu Dhabi institutions including Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), has resulted in an exponential growth in the emirate’s VC landscape. Notable initiatives launched include Hub 71, the tech ecosystem jointly developed by Mubadala, ADIO, Softbank, Microsoft and ADGM, the $145 million Ghadan Ventures Fund, sponsored by Ghadan 21 and administered by ADIO, as well the $250 million Mubadala-led MENA Tech Fund and the $1 billion Catalyst Fund, launched by Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners.

A number of additional initiatives have been launched by ADGM to augment the region’s most dynamic VC and startup ecosystem, from championing FinTech Abu Dhabi Festival to introducing leading edge RegTech initiatives, one of which uses AI-enabled Regbots to assist interested applicants in shortening the time further in applying for VC manager licences.

Our upcoming webinar will discuss the region’s expansive funding environment that supports entrepreneurs and startups wishing to scale their operations globally. Abu Dhabi’s vibrant ecosystem and ADGM’s progressive framework further assist in building bridges between global investors and the region’s talent.

To learn more about the region’s VC ecosystem and listen in on expert insights from the industry’s leading minds, please watch the webinar "Developing a strong and vibrant venture capital ecosystem in the Middle East".

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