The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) in collaboration with the Dubai Future Foundation recently hosted a delegation of founders representing Italy’s leading startups at its headquarters in Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park) as part of its mission to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the emirate.
During the visit, 11 startup founders from diverse industries and sectors in Italy, were offered an insight into the varied facilities, programmes and initiatives that Sheraa offers to support aspiring and established entrepreneurs in Sharjah, the UAE, and across the Mena region.
Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of the SRTI Park; Karan Deep, Entrepreneurship Development director at Sheraa; Marwan Saleh Alichla, director of the Sharjah Investors Services Centre (Saeed), operating under the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah); as well as several senior officials from public and private organisations in the emirate welcomed the Italian delegation at the Sheraa offices.
As an enabling platform that fosters innovation and supports entrepreneurs with business fundamentals to build scalable solutions, Sheraa exchanged relevant information on the startup ecosystem in Sharjah, highlighted its best practices, and offered key insights of its experience in the innovation and entrepreneurship sector. The visit also enabled Sheraa to explore investment and partnership opportunities with the Italian founders to expand their business operations in the emirate.
The Italian startups were also introduced to Sheraa’s recently launched “Sharjah Startup Studio (S3)” programme, the first government-backed startup studio in the UAE which takes a more hands-on approach to venture building. S3, which aims to build enduring businesses to accelerate the region’s digital transformation, will leverage its extensive market access to support startups with customer acquisition and help them integrate into local and global supply chains.
The 11 Italian startups are in the UAE as participants in the second edition of the Global Startup Program, promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and organised by the Italian Trade Agency, for the first time in the UAE. As partner in the Global Startup Program, Sheraa hosted the delegation in Sharjah.
The delegation toured SRTI Park and was briefed on the innovation ecosystem the Park supports through its state-of-the-art facilities and services. During the visit, Al Mahmoudi highlighted the key goals and chief pillars of SRTI Park that are facilitating the growth of the region's knowledge-intensive businesses and emphasised its collaboration with relevant authorities to build a robust framework to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies.
He said: "SRTI Park aims to develop and manage an ecosystem based on innovation by fueling it with scientific, applied and technological research, advanced infrastructure, and a safe investment environment to foster the emergence of cutting-edge tech enterprises.”
Following the visit, Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, said: “Sharjah is one of the most dynamic and robust economies in the region and with its prudent economic planning and diversification, the emirate has positioned itself an attractive destination for global startups looking to expand their businesses and tap into the emerging markets in this region. As part of Sheraa’s vision to build a strong and globally connected ecosystem, and reinforce Sharjah’s position as a vibrant startup hub, we provided the 11 Italian founders with in-depth insights into our startup boot camps, and seed and pre-seed programme offerings across the startup lifecycle.”
Al Midfa added: “The volume of trade exchange between the UAE and Italy was about €5.4 billion as of 2019. We aim to strengthen this economic partnership by advancing business models and strategies tailored to every stage of the entrepreneurial journey to enable Italian changemakers set up and scale their sustainable businesses in Sharjah. Sheraa’s track record in providing access to capital, mentorship and the support of a nurturing community of local and global partners will further enhance the investment climate in the emirate and contribute to its non-oil growth.”
The Italian delegation were also given a presentation by the Sharjah Investors Services Center (Saeed), which operates under the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), where Marwan Saleh Alichla, Director of Saeed, outlined the various services offered by the entity for all investors to increase the ease of establishing and doing business in the emirate.
He said: “Saeed is a world-class one-window service that helps investors set up their business in less than 60 minutes. Our strong communication and partnership network with all government entities will enable our customers to be serviced by Tasheel, the Notary Public, Emirates ID Authority and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – all under one roof.”
He added: “Sharjah is home to 258 Italian companies, operating in diverse sectors within the mainland and across the emirate’s specialised freezones, and this visit, reflects Sharjah’s commitment to enable innovation and tech-based entrepreneurs from Italy to flourish and accelerate their growth in our region.”
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