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Thu 5 Dec 2019 03:43 PM

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Dubai's ARM Holding launches $2.7m initiative to find the next 'Facebook founder'

Students from around the world invited to pitch ideas for funding

Dubai's ARM Holding launches $2.7m initiative to find the next 'Facebook founder'

Mohammad Al Shehhi, CEO of ARM Holding

Mohammad Al Shehhi, CEO of ARM Holding, is hoping the Dubai-based conglomerate’s latest initiative can help uncover the next Facebook founder.

ARM recently revealed a AED10 million ten-year fund to support start-ups from graduate talent around the world.

Al Shehhi told Arabian Business: “If you look at all the great projects that we have today, most of them started at universities, like Facebook.

“Hopefully having all these best design projects from the best universities we’ll be able to pick one that will potentially become a good business for us.”

The project is being run through the Global Grad Show, which was conceived and operated by Art Dubai Group.

Students from all over the world have been invited to take part in the initiative, including those from Harvard, Stanford, the Royal College of Art and universities in Japan and Hong Kong, as well as those from the region here.


They are given the chance to showcase their ideas and the best are selected by a committee to receive seed funding. They are also incubated in Dubai, at Wamda Capital, Dubai Future Foundation or N5.

Al Shehhi, the former CEO of Dubai Design District, said: “ARM Holding will have equity in that. Hopefully this idea will grow to become something commercially viable, then we will grow with the student and our contribution and seeding from the beginning will grow with the student as they grow.

“There’s many things that we will add beyond funding, it’s us being in Dubai, us helping to incubate in Dubai, us exposing them to different investors. There will be a lot of things that will help and add to the idea in order to make it successful for the students.”

Social impact

As well as being economically viable, the idea must also have a social impact.

“We have seen successful stories, the Careem, Souq.com and hopefully there will be many more to come. For Dubai it will be positioned as an innovation hub and I think this is very important and key,” said Al Shehhi.

“We bet on the younger generation. We believe if we can tap into this younger generation, either in technology and sustainability and there will be some ideas, they will contribute back into the economy of Dubai and the UAE.”

Since 2015, the Global Grad Show has given over 700 graduates around the world the opportunity to showcase their projects to an international audience and be seen by tens of thousands of people at the exhibition.

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