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Mon 4 May 2015 10:55 AM

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Yusuf asks: Are there any non-tech start-up incubators in the UAE?

Hello, Why are business incubators here in the UAE mostly interested in IT, mobile, media start-ups? I have an idea to reduce plastic bottle waste here in Dubai, where can I find business incubators in and / or mentors in Dubai to develop my idea? Regards, Yusuf – Dubai.

Dear Yusuf,


Thank you for your question.


My short answer would be that such businesses are generally viewed as more scalable and less capital intensive. My more detailed answer, however, would be that the perception you have of incubators applies to incubators the world over and not only in the UAE.


Incubators by definition are meant to provide their services over a relatively short period of time and in a relatively small space. Their performance is measured by the number of “graduating” companies they produce annually.


With that in mind, it is only natural to opt for industries that can provide for scalability, small workforce, lean operations, short incubation periods, and low capital expenditure requirements. Hence, the focus on technology and media.


That being said, it is important to note that non-tech incubators do actually exist in the UAE.


Only recently I was made aware of a food & beverage incubator being setup in one of the local universities here. This would be an incubator purely focused on developing concepts for the F&B industry.


I have also recently been having a conversation with one of the local government entities in the UAE looking at developing non-tech incubators for other sectors relevant to the development of our economy.


Depending on how much development and investment your idea requires, and given it sounds like it falls in the clean-tech space, incubation might not be the right solution for you.


You may want to approach the likes of Masdar Capital, who actively invest in the development and commercialisation of clean technologies. Although they generally invest in later stage concepts, they might be able to point you in the right direction.


Good luck,