Dubai: The 4th Edition Sharjah Advanced Industry Accelerator (SAIA) is creating waves in the UAE’s venture capital (VC) landscape. This is reflected in the phenomenal figure of 3,536 applications it received from over 40 countries in just two months.
The highest number of applications was from India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mexico, United Kingdom and France. Interestingly, there has been a significant increase in interest from women-led startups compared to last year. Another unique aspect is that there has been a rise in applications from sustainable tech startups.
Mr. Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTIP, said: “We are thrilled by the unprecedented response to our Accelerator program from startups from different parts of the world. This is a reflection of the growing importance of the MENA region, and high ranking of the UAE when it comes to funding of startups due to progressive economic policies and supportive innovation ecosystems.
“At SRTIP we are happy to play the role of providing the right environment and framework for startups to grow and scale. The SAIA program, now in its fourth year, is proud of the pivotal role it is playing in nurturing startups.”
The unique Acceleration program will run from September to Nov 2023, closing with an Investor & Demo Day on Nov 27, running up to COP28 in Dubai, where some of the cohort startups will be able to showcase their innovations and leverage the many opportunities that COP presents. The final day for submitting applications is May 23.
The strong response to SAIA 2023 comes at a time when the region is witnessing unprecedented flow of venture capital, promising a thriving future for startups.
Total financing from venture capital funds in the Middle East surged 132 per cent to almost $2 billion last year, with the total number of deals up 5 per cent to 410, according to Magnitt.
Startups in the MENA region raised $3.94 billion in 2022 across 795 deals, a rise of 24 per cent in investment value when compared to 2021. The UAE stood on top, fetching the most investments to the tune of $1.85 billion across 250 deals, a rise of 5 per cent in terms of investment value, the Magnitt report revealed.
The UAE aims to become home to 20 unicorns – startups worth above $1 billion each -- by 2031, in its push to become a regional centre for innovation and entrepreneurship. Last year, the country launched the Entrepreneurial Nation initiative, which aims to offer support through a series of public-private partnerships that help entrepreneurs to set up operations in the Emirates, expand their businesses, export products and tap into online sales.
Hosted by the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP), SAIA presents startups and innovative companies a gateway to funds, networking, expertise, resources, projects and a thriving ecosystem conducive to innovation.