Dubai’s event calendar is already quite packed – so what value do events like STEP Conference add to this landscape?
STEP has grown phenomenally over the past few years to establish itself as a very experiential festival in the region. Starting out initially as a series of workshops and small gatherings, it is now recognised as one of the region’s key events for tech, start-ups, SMEs, and everything digital.
For the first time, STEP is bringing four focused conferences to Dubai Internet City (DIC) – STEP Start, for start-ups and SMEs; STEP Digital, for the latest in advertising, content and media; STEP X, for future technologies; and STEP Money, for financial technology (FinTech). What sets them apart from the rest of the events on Dubai’s calendar is their engaging, targeted approach towards several emerging industry sectors, individuals, and organisations.
Events such as STEP are very relevant in context of the region’s growing investment in tech, with spending on information and communications technology (ICT) in Middle East and Africa expected to reach $230 billion (Dh844.1 billion) this year, with a year-on-year increase of 2.7 per cent, as per growth forecasts by the International Data Corporation (IDC).
With growing attendance, backing from government sectors and some of the biggest industry partners, STEP is showcasing its commitment to drive Dubai’s innovation mandate – and we are pleased to support them in this venture. This is the first time we are hosting the event, and we look forward to future collaborations with the STEP team.
Seeing how STEP is an event focused on innovation and SMEs – what role does DIC play in empowering such businesses and fostering innovative start-ups in the country and the wider region?
DIC is committed to inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, and we seek to promote progress, creativity and innovation across our 24,000-strong community. Earlier this month, we announced that our partners secured over Dh7.8 billion since DIC’s inception, which serves as a testament of our success in providing support and enabling the region’s technology industry.
Additionally, over 60 per cent of our partners are SMEs, benefitting enormously through the networking events and knowledge exchanges we host regularly at DIC. These sessions are often co-hosted by industry leaders such as IBM, Oracle, Facebook, Microsoft, SAP and other partners, creating an environment conducive for SMEs to learn directly from established firms.
We have also created in5, an enabling platform for students, start-ups and entrepreneurs, which fosters and nurtures them to their next phase of growth. Currently, there are over 100 in5 start-ups, spanning more than 20 sectors in the tech, media and design industries.
Why is Dubai Internet City partnering with STEP Conference? How is DIC supporting STEP in its capacity as a corporate business ecosystem?
STEP is one of the foremost events for everything futuristic and transformational; bringing together an interesting mix of attendees, leaders and experts from a range of industries and disciplines every year.
As the region’s leading ICT hub and business community, our strategic partnership with STEP serves to highlight our shared contribution towards making Dubai one of the most innovative, smart cities in the world – something that is demonstrated by its evolving start-up ecosystem, which is growing at an extraordinary pace. Just last year, 260 companies, including our partners Souq.com and Careem, witnessed record-breaking investments and raised about $560 million (Dh2.05 billion) in funding, as per Magnitt’s 2017 State of MENA Funding report.
DIC’s unique business ecosystem is designed to support ICT start-ups, SMEs and large businesses in their growth, many of which have chosen to establish their regional headquarters here. Strategically located within the heart of new Dubai, the DIC community is highly accessible and well connected through several modes of transport, and includes everything from green community spaces to sustainable lighting.
Equipped with sound physical infrastructure, a proven track record when it comes to scalability, and a variety of business support services to streamline systems and processes, we hope to add immense value to STEP through our community this year.
What makes DIC so attractive and unique for tech companies all over the world?
DIC is one of the key driving forces behind transforming Dubai’s Strategy for Innovation into reality, and our specialised, enabling ecosystem plays a crucial role in this process. Tech giants from SAP, Oracle, Dell and Samsung to homegrown success stories like Careem and Souq.com have all chosen to be part of the larger DIC technology and business ecosystem.
DIC’s greatest strength lies in nurturing a diverse community, and fostering an environment conducive to ideation and the exchange of knowledge and best practices. Organising over 100 community engagements every year, such as trainings, workshops, exhibitions, trade shows and start up demo days, DIC contributes heavily to the development of sector expertise and the growth of the regional ICT industry, while giving tens of thousands of young, dynamic professionals a platform to connect and exchange ideas.
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