Top 12 GCC incubators and accelerators
Arabian Business Startup magazine takes a look at a number of establishments that promise to help you on the road to business success (companies are listed alphabetically).
\n\n1776 is a global innovation platform started in Washington DC in 2013, and now with an office and co-working space in Dubai Future Accelerators. The core of the 1776 offering is Union, a software platform that allows entrepreneurs to reach a range of online resources.
\nThese include training materials, access to mentors and subject matter experts, as well as the ability to connect with potential investors, customers and business partners. 1776 hosts a number of startup competitions, including the recent Future Utility Cup hosted with DEWA. \n
It has a $12.5 million seed fund with 30 portfolio companies and 1776 wants to grow the fund and increase its geographical reach.
\n\n9/10ths is a Saudi Arabia-focused incubator and accelerator initiated by Saudi Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), in partnership with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). \n
Run as a non-profit, 9/10ths provides mentorship and funding, without taking equity in return. It offers a program that is broken up into three phases: Pre-Accelerator (one month); Accelerator (three months); and Incubator (3-6 months). 9/10ths started operations last year and its first batch of six companies graduated from the program last December. \n
Twenty companies are now involved in round two. Applications to join the program are made online and entrepreneurs are invited for interview, after which 20 companies are selected to join the program.
\n\nAstroLabs Dubai is a fully-equipped co-working space for digital technology companies. It has partnered with Dubai Metals & Commodities Centre (DMCC) to offer a subsidised company licensing program, which includes waived first year company registration fees (a saving of around $12K), fasttrack company setup through DMCC, no initial capital requirements and an allowance of up to five residency visas. AstroLabs Academy holds regular classes and programs on digital marketing, analytics, coding, interface design, big data, design and core business skills. Specialised programs are developed and delivered with AstroLabs’ partners, Google for Entrepreneurs and IBM.
\n\nCloud 10 has been created to help tech startups with links to Bahrain scale up their businesses. It offers a three month intensive business administration programme, run with global mentors and accessed through the cloud. Cloud 10 was conceived by C5, a tech investment group with offices in Bahrain, which also runs an investment fund focused on Series A to late stage investments in cloud-focused companies. \n
The Cloud 10 programme is run in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Tamkeen & Economic Development Board Bahrain. Applicants can apply online and must demonstrate a ‘link with Bahrain’. They must show a credible plan for revenue generation and their company must already be in existence.
\n\nDtec is a business incubator located in and run by Dubai’s Silicon Oasis. It features more than 5,000 square metres of space where fixed and flexi desks and dedicated spaces are available. Dtec’s Incubator offers venture funding, along with a flexible program including mentoring, strategic business planning, investor, legal services and accounts support.
\nDtec houses the MENA region’s only Intel Internet of Things Ignition Lab, where developers can innovate, collaborate and scale IoT solutions using Intel platforms and expertise. Members also have access to an annual programme of networking, training and social events and access to a partner network that includes Microsoft, Intel, du, Thomson Reuters, Dubai Chamber, Alibaba Cloud and VISA.
\n\nDubai SME is a government agency created to help boost the SME sector in Dubai. It works to advocate a pro-business environment for developing entrepreneurship and SMEs, provides capital to innovative startups and grooms promising SMEs.
Under Dubai SME, Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund (MBRF) was launched in 2015 to provide financing solutions for promising businesses and to assist Emirati entrepreneurship. \nIt promotes startup businesses and supports their early stage development through a range of financing options, including non-interest seed capital loans, credit guarantees and LPO/invoice financing. It awarded ten grants of AED 100K each to aspiring Emirati entrepreneurs as part of the START competition run during Careers UAE last month.
\n\nFinTech Hive is a fintech-focused accelerator launched in January this year as a joint initiative between DIFC and Accenture. It is now inviting applications for its inaugural program before the deadline of May 28. Successful companies will spend three months in DIFC where they will receive mentoring from the industry’s leading firms and senior financial services executives; receive direct feedback from target customer groups; attend workshops and panel discussions on topics such as procurement, regulation and industry trends; and gain opportunities to raise their profile amongst potential partners and investors. Participants must have a minimum viable product and must be able to spend 12 weeks in Dubai during the programme. Key international and regional financial institutions have signed up as programme partners, along with Facebook and Envestnet Yodlee.
\n\nFlat6Labs is a regional accelerator that provides seed funding, strategic mentorship, a creative workspace, a multitude of perks, entrepreneurship-focused business training, and directly supports startups through a network of partner entities, mentors and investors.
Each startup receives $10-15K in seed funding in exchange for equity; four months of mentorship in areas such as logistics, technology, business development, hiring and fund raising; access to co-working spaces; legal advice and credits for services such as AWS, RackSpace and Mailchimp. Flat6Labs is currently operating out of Cairo, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi and soon in Beirut and Tunis.
\n\nIn 5, part of TECOM Group, offers incubation services for start-ups in technology, design and media. It offers workspaces, training and meeting rooms, exposure to regional and international investors, access to mentorship and a range of activities that includes seminars, training sessions and workshops.
In5 operates through three innovation centres, one in each of Dubai Media City, Dubai Design District and Dubai Studio City. The new centre in Dubai Studio City offers access to creative facilities, including production and recording studios, screening rooms and editing suites. DDD’s facility includes a lab equipped for designers working with metals, wood, plastic and textiles.
\n\nSharjah-based NAMA Women’s Advancement Establishment aims to develop opportunities for women in three major sectors; economic, professional and social. It is mandated to launch, manage and supervise initiatives, programmes and projects that help advance women in the UAE. Through the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, it runs the ‘Azyame’ fashion design mentorship program organised in collaboration with London College of Fashion. \n
It also runs the Jeel program, under which a number of women have gone through training and mentorship in business skills and business plan development. The first edition of the Jeel program wraps up soon and a second edition is underway.
\n\nSheraa (Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre) was launched in January 2016 to provide a launch pad for aspiring young entrepreneurs in the UAE. Sheraa’s co-working facility is housed at the American University of Sharjah and offers a university-based accelerator program, providing a mentorship-driven entrepreneurship boot camp to support teams that demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit.
The hands-on accelerator provides seed-funding and strategic mentorship by industry professionals, and a suite of other competitive benefits. Also amongst its initiatives is an academy that equips students with 21st century industry skills to bridge the skills gap. Sheraa recently unveiled the first batch of 10 teams that have completed its accelerator program. These ten teams underwent an intensive four-month training and mentorship program, supported by seed funding, affordable trade licenses, office space and networking opportunities.
\n\nTurn8 is a venture fund comprised of a growth accelerator program complemented by a follow-on investment fund. It offers two accelerator rounds per year, starting in September and February. Each lasts 4-5 months and consists of investment, mentorship and business development support. Each round consists of three phases: Growth Design, Product Development & Attracting Clients, and Post Accelerator Support & Series A Funding.
\nIn phase 3, startups give a pitch to investors from the Turn8 network. If successful, teams are supported with business development, fundraising and mentorship for a further 12 months. The company’s portfolio is global, but includes 14 companies from the UAE and one from Lebanon.