Abu Dhabi-based ADIO partners with Microsoft to offer $2.7M in cash grants to 10 tech startups
Abu Dhabi is a city famous for its skyscrapers. Probably the last thing that would come to your mind when you think of Abu Dhabi is Silicon-Valley of the Middle East. In recent years, The UAE has produced some successful startups like Careem, Fetchr, PropertyFinder.com, and many more.
One of the leading organizations that is accelerating innovation and opportunities for tech startups in the region is The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), a government entity responsible for attracting and facilitating investment in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. ADIO enables opportunities for innovative investors and businesses of all sizes, facilitating connections across Abu Dhabi’s innovation ecosystem to help them establish and grow in the emirate.
This morning, ADIO announced that it is partnering with Microsoft to give $2.7 million in cash grants to kick-start 10 tech startups. As part of the partnership with ADIO, Microsoft will manage several programs over a five-year period to support the regional technology start-up ecosystem, consisting of:
- Microsoft Growth X Accelerator: A virtual accelerator program with a focus on recruiting local and regional startups
- Highway to 100 Unicorns: An engagement initiative that runs startup-focused activities through regional partners to recruit high-potential startups for the Accelerator
Plug and Play will support two accelerator programs in FinTech and HealthTech whilst launching another program to be operational within the first half of 2021 (with ADIO providing funding).
Recently ranked 12th globally in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Subnational Report 2020, Abu Dhabi is continuing to build a talent-rich tech ecosystem as ADIO looks to accelerate the growth of 10 tech startups across Fintech, HealthTech, ICT, and AgTech.
Commenting on the partnership, H.E. Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO, said: “Abu Dhabi has fostered an environment where startups can access the means and opportunities to help them bring bold ideas to life. We are committed to deepening our support for investors and innovators in 2021 and have partnered with leading startup enablers and accelerators from around the world to provide the community with greater access to financing, networks, and mentorship. As the global economy looks to the future, Abu Dhabi’s ecosystem is well-positioned as the region’s foremost investment destination for big thinkers to realize their ambitions.”
The first two programs are “Microsoft Growth X Accelerator”, a virtual accelerator program with a focus on recruiting local and regional startups, and “Highway to 100 Unicorns”, an engagement initiative that runs startup-focused activities through regional ecosystem partners to recruit high-potential startups for the Accelerator as well as future programs in the pipeline by Microsoft and ADIO. Further initiatives focused on entrepreneurship for Emiratis and UAE residents, as well as university students, are in the works and will be launched in the coming months.
As part of the “Microsoft for Startups” program, ADIO and Microsoft will provide technology, Azure cloud services, business support tools, and programs to develop skillsets, aimed at accelerating growth opportunities for startups. Under the agreement, Microsoft will manage several programs over a five-year period to support the regional technology startup ecosystem.
Sayed Hashish, General Manager of Microsoft UAE, said: “Startups play a vital role in driving the next wave of innovation and accelerating economic growth. Abu Dhabi has become a promising launchpad for startups to bring their ideas to life and scale globally. Our strategic partnership with ADIO speaks to Microsoft’s commitment as a global technology partner to enable budding entrepreneurs to develop, scale, and build transformational businesses with innovative technology, empowering them to achieve more.”
Plug and Play, an innovation platform that brings together top startups and the world’s largest corporations and government entities, currently runs accelerator programs in the Middle East from the Emirate’s International Financial Center, Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). Since 2017, the partnership between Plug and Play and ADGM has been a leading force in driving innovation in the region by uniting startups with expertise from international startups and major corporations.
ADIO is building on this success to take the platform to the next level by partnering with Plug and Play to support two of its existing accelerator programs, focusing on FinTech and HealthTech, as well as launching an additional accelerator program for a third sector that will be operational within the first half of 2021. As part of the agreement, ADIO will provide funding for the accelerators and will work closely with Plug and Play to establish Abu Dhabi as an innovation hub across key sectors in the region.
Saeed Amidi, CEO and Founder of Plug and Play, said: “”Plug and Play is proud to partner with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office to continue supporting exceptional tech startups and talent to grow across the UAE and GCC. Over the past 3 years and going forward, our focus will be to continue creating real business opportunities for innovative local, regional and international startups that can have a lasting impact on critical sectors through corporate and government collaborations. Through ADIO’s support and our growing network of partnerships with the most future-forward major private and public sector entities, we are confident to attain our GCC vision of a unified, seamless and sustainable marketplace for the best B2B startup solutions to start and scale.”
In addition to the partnerships with Microsoft and Plug and Play, ADIO is working alongside partners including ADGM, Hub71, ADQ, and Mubadala to continue growing the emirate’s innovation ecosystem. ADIO’s role includes connecting investors and companies to relevant opportunities across Abu Dhabi’s ecosystem, bringing together the right partnerships to help them grow and expand in the emirate, and setting them up for long-term, sustainable success in the region.