Creating unicorns in UAE: 8 Indian start-ups present pitches in Dubai

This comes after Indian PM Narendra Modi last year announced January 16 as National Start Up Day to promote entrepreneurship and businesses



Attendees at Pitching Sessions by 9 teams from India at the National Start up day event at the Taj hotel in Dubai on Jan 16, 2023. Photos: Rahul Gujjar
Attendees at Pitching Sessions by 9 teams from India at the National Start up day event at the Taj hotel in Dubai on Jan 16, 2023. Photos: Rahul Gujjar
by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Tue 17 Jan 2023, 4:37 PM

Last updated: Tue 17 Jan 2023, 5:48 PM

The sovereign wealth funds of the UAE have started looking at the Indian start up ecosystem with optimism, as both countries foster the growth of more unicorns.

This was the reigning sentiment at the National Start Up Day and ELEVATE Pitching Series, that stood testament to the ‘India-UAE start up corridor,’ seeking to target a minimum of 50 validated start-ups based in India and the UAE with a mission to foster 10 of them into unicorns by 2025.

Taking advantage of the UAE for its global expansion while using it as a springboard, at least eight India-based start ups pitched their case at Hotel Taj, Dubai on Monday, while looking to raise funds for their nascent enterprise.

This comes after the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year announced January 16 as the National Start Up Day to promote entrepreneurship and businesses.

Meanwhile, as India assumes the Presidency of the G20, and start ups become the engine for innovation-fuelled economic recovery, the nation is also dedicating a group to start ups called “Start-up 20".

Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India, Dubai, at the National Start Up day event at the Taj hotel in Dubai on Jan 16, 2023.
Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India, Dubai, at the National Start Up day event at the Taj hotel in Dubai on Jan 16, 2023.

Speaking at the event, Dr Aman Puri, consul general of India, Dubai said, “We see the sovereign wealth funds of the UAE based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai looking at the Indian startup ecosystem, with a huge amount of positivity and understanding on how we can engage together. As part of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) it was decided to have an India-UAE start-up operation, under which there were several programmes of which is, identifying 50 promising startups from India, bringing them here and uploading them so that at least 10 of them become unicorns by 2025."

Dr Puri underlined that UAE offers a gateway to engage with communities in the Middle East, Africa and CIS countries due to its strategic location, ease of doing business, the speed of doing business while utilising the global supply chains and its “enormous investable sovereign wealth”, which collaboratively can contribute to extraordinary transformation of the global economy.

He added, “Recently, we heard about the announcement of the D33 plan as part of the transformation of Dubai economy which has been approved by none other than His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and the Ruler of Dubai. It (says) that over the next 10 years there will be an attempt to create 30 unicorns here in Dubai. India has enormous human talent, capital and a large number of prestigious institutions the IITs, the IIMs and other engineering colleges and institutes of excellence across the country, producing talented and motivated individuals. Therefore, this becomes a complementary and synergistic relationship where, together, we can co-create unicorns not just for this region, but for the global market. As we create unicorns, we are also bringing in efficiencies into the system, we are bringing innovations and we are fast tracking the adoption of new business models.”

K Kalimuthu, Consul (Economic, Trade and Commerce), Consulate General of India
K Kalimuthu, Consul (Economic, Trade and Commerce), Consulate General of India

Elucidating on how this will contribute to finding innovative solutions to global challenges, he said, “We are all here to tell the world, that it is recovering from the once in a lifetime health crisis, which has had a devastating impact on the economy. A huge amount of economic output has been erased and we need to rebuild our supply chains and address those challenges. It's very important that we partner and collaborate so that we can move forward.”

Ananth Narayanan, Founder Mensa Brands and former Myntra CEO noted how such initiatives create an ecosystem to embolden the engagement between start ups, investors, incubators, corporations, and entrepreneurs to scale their business and strengthen their position in the global market. He says, “I think there's (a scope for) a vibrant tech ecosystem here. We have, for example, consumer brands, but they need to run on a tech platform. So, we're looking for interesting tech partners who can actually help us scale this. This can be AI, or it can be machine learning. We have our own brand here called Catch On which is incorporated in Dubai and is selling here, the US and India. So, I believe India and the UAE can collaborate a lot more in the tech world. I think there is an interesting place to actually build tech ecosystems here, like engineering, products, operations, especially, because of the geographical location, one can service the world from left to right.”

While fostering deeper collaboration between the start-up ecosystems of India and the UAE and to further the momentum set by interactions, the evening also witnessed proposals by India-based technology-led innovative start ups from various sectors.

Sravani Rao, CTO and co-founder of Quantic, (which aims to empower the safety team of core industries such as construction, mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, automotive) opined, “We got a lot of attention from the investors and also from a couple of delegates. We are looking forward to expanding as we are currently operating in India only. We are trying to look for more opportunities in Dubai and the UAE. Our customers are completely from the oil and gas industry and retail segments specifically. Our product pertains to the safety domain (of workers). Safety is much more stringent here. Therefore, we are looking at collaborations and partnerships and trying to scale up our team while utlilising any possible market opportunities.”

Another participant, Jai Narain Misra, CEO of Odwen Technologies avers, “We're trying to get into the international markets. We need help from investors. It’s a potential market for us but it’s also a new market for us. We are looking at business development in this part of the world.”

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