Entrepreneurial Nation unveils initiatives to support UAE startups

Four agreements signed so far to facilitate UAE startups’ growth in South Korea, India, Latvia and Saudi Arabian markets


A Staff Reporter

Published: Mon 28 Nov 2022, 6:11 PM

The Entrepreneurial Nation, the leading national platform designed to qualitatively transform the UAE’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, launched the first set of initiatives under its phase II.

The new initiatives include innovative programs under the ScaleUp track, the support platform for rapidly growing companies, particularly its ScaleUp Expand sub-track.

Four agreements have been concluded so far with the Republic of South Korea, India, Latvia, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under phase II to support the global expansion of UAE’s startups by providing solutions and advantages at competitive prices that ensure sustainable growth of their diverse business activities.

Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Saleh, undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, said the UAE continues to empower key sectors to support the new economic model to which "we are currently transitioning into," in line with our wise leadership’s proactive vision for economic diversification.

"Accordingly, we are capitalising on sectors of new economy to support GDP growth and leveraging the UAE’s vast resources to promote the nation’s sustainable economic development.”

He said the Entrepreneurial Nation is one of the main pillars supporting entrepreneurship in the UAE, and an important platform to promote SMEs model and increase their contribution to the national economy.

"This was evident during phase 1 of Mena’s first of its kind national project. Through ScaleUp Expand, under phase II of the project, we seek to facilitate UAE startups’ access to global markets and extend all forms of support to ensure their sustainable growth and prosperous futures, in cooperation with a wide network of strategic partners from the region and from around the world.”

He underlined that the initiative, with the MoUs it has signed, is a tremendous opportunity that will enable UAE startups to enter new regional and global markets and gain experiences that will help expand their diverse operations and gradually transform into unicorns. He explained that the Ministry of Economy continues to support and empower the SMEs sector in the country in cooperation with its strategic partners from the government and private sectors and experts from around the world.

Under the ScaleUp Expand sub-track, which falls under the main ScaleUp track, one of the main axes of The Entrepreneurial Nation project, an agreement was signed with the Korea Federation of SMEs (Scale Up Korea), with an aim to promote cooperation between startups in the UAE and Korea in the sectors of the new economy. These include smart agriculture and advanced technology, and the partnership will help UAE businesses learn about agricultural technology market and smart agriculture methods followed in South Korea. It is set to support the efforts and objectives of the UAE’s food security agenda in particular. Startups registered in the UAE that specialise in the field of smart agriculture and offer innovative solutions in this field can register in this program through the link:

Chul Woo Kim, president of the Korea Federation of SMEs, said Korea and UAE have a shared goal of promoting the growth of SMEs to create a bright economic future, and this MoU between us and the Ministry of Economy is the first step in establishing fruitful economic partnerships and identifying more growth opportunities for startups in both countries.

In addition, the ‘Startup Bridge’ between UAE and India was also launched, based on an agreement signed with StartUpIndia, which offers a shared platform for SMEs, featuring all advantages and information needed by companies in the two countries. It will facilitate knowledge exchange, implementation of joint programs and capacity building with the aim of providing investment opportunities for startups in both countries. Thus, the platform will enable their continued growth, especially in the sectors of health, agricultural, educational, climatic technology, and other new economy sectors. Registered companies in the UAE that work in these areas with a clear strategy and a minimum revenue of USD 1 million, and employ at least 20 full-time employees can participate in the programme.

Yet another agreement was signed with the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia with the aim of expanding and enhancing the access of UAE startups to European markets, through the agency’s representative offices.

In addition, this partnership will provide a set of competitive advantages that include support from dedicated mentors and information on the nature of the market and education about trade regulations for establishing a business in Latvia. Furthermore, participants of this program will be able to take part in international exhibitions and conferences online or offline with individual booths, apart from participating in global digital industry platforms and fairs. They will get to learn about adapting their products and services to foreign markets including brand development and design samples, and will be able to avail marketing support via specialised print and digital media in the European Union.

Meanwhile, the agreement signed with the Latvian Investment and Development Agency will provide financial support to UAE startups. The grant includes €200,000 with minimum terms and conditions for the services provided by the agency, and a 100 per cent discount on participation in Latvian national pavilions in international exhibitions.

In addition, the participants can avail a 90 per cent discount on compliance assessment and certification (up to a maximum of €45,000), and an 80 per cent discount on export support activities across the Agency's offices in Europe (up to a maximum of €60,000).

The UAE-based companies with one year of market experience and have five full-time employees can apply for this program and take advantage of the benefits it provides.

Inga Ullmann, Counselor for Economic and Commercial Affairs at the Latvian Embassy in the UAE, and head of the Representative Office in the UAE and the Middle East of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency, said the ScaleUp programme is an outstanding initiative that encourages entrepreneurs in the two countries to explore opportunities available in each other’s markets.

"We are seeing an increase in the number of Latvian startups operating in the UAE, as a result of the initiatives and legislation launched by the UAE to develop a highly favourable entrepreneurial environment. I believe that Latvia is the ideal gateway for Emirati startups to expand into Europe, and this is reinforced by Latvia’s winning of the Unicorn Investment award in Environmental Development for Startups, International Trade Council.”

The initiative will also help startups in the UAE expand in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through discounted packages to enter the Kingdom’s market under the agreement signed with AstroLabs. The latter will provide a set of benefits and incentives to companies, including free three-day admission to a workspace in AstroLabs, Riyadh, five per cent discount on all expansion and employment services, and 20 per cent on selected training from the AstroLabs Academy, in addition to providing free consultation by one of the company's specialists. It will provide advice on the necessary requirements for expansion within the Kingdom. Participants can learn more about the advantages of the initiative and the mechanisms for entering the Kingdom's market through the workshop that will be held by AstroLabs.

Roland Daher, CEO of AstroLabs, said: “Over the past two years, we have noticed an increasing interest from startups based in the UAE to expand into the Saudi Arabian market, especially as they have many promising opportunities in the sectors of the new economy.”

The Ministry of Economy confirmed that all programs available under the signed agreements are completely free of charge, and that startups can benefit from more than one program, if that they pass the criteria of the programmes they wish to join.

On November 10, 2021, the Ministry of Economy launched the first phase of the The Entrepreneurial Nation project, which is a comprehensive national portal, aimed at bringing about a quantum leap in the work environment of startups in the country. The initiative falls in line with the goals and principles of the 50 and determinants of UAE Centennial 2071, which aim to build a new economic model based on knowledge and innovation.

The first phase of the project was based on three main axes: SkillUP Academy, StartUp, and the Scaleup support platform for fast-growing companies, all of which contribute to achieving the project's long-term goals of providing support for more than 8,000 startups and pilot projects of SMEs in the country and the transformation of more than 20 Startups into billionaire companies (Unicorn) by 2031.

In its first phase, the Entrepreneurial Nation succeeded in providing AED 20 million to entrepreneurs from the project partners, providing support for about 1,000 projects out of the 5,000 entrepreneurs and owners of SMEs registered in the Entrepreneurial Nation. It also established more than 35 largest of their kind partnerships among the government, the national private sector, and prestigious international companies concerned with entrepreneurship, in addition to obtaining several international awards.

The second phase of the project was launched at the 42nd GITEX Global exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Center, last October, and it included the launch of 10 new programs in cooperation with a wide range of global strategic partners to support the growth and expansion of SMEs from out of the UAE to the world.

— muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com

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