Across the Middle East, fintech is transforming the delivery of financial services. In recent years, many acceleration and incubation programs have emerged to nurture local fintech startups and develop a thriving ecosystem.
Here are some of the Middle East’s most notable fintech accelerators and incubators:
1864 Accelerator – Cairo, Egypt
The 1864 Accelerator was the first local fintech-focused startup accelerator program of its kind to launch in Egypt. Powered by Flat6Labs in partnership with Barclays Bank Egypt, the accelerator acts as a platform for fostering the fintech innovation space in Egypt through enabling entrepreneurs to transform their disruptive ideas into commercially viable solutions.
It aims to support fintech entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into commercially viable solutions. The program offers seed funding up to EGP150,000, world class mentorship, training, legal support, office space and more.
AUC Venture Lab – Cairo, Egypt
AUC Venture Lab is Egypt’s first university-based incubator and accelerator at The American University in Cairo. The lab enables startups to capitalize on AUC’s intellectual capital, world-class facilities and research capacities. It connects innovative startups with AUC’s network that includes alumni, faculty, mentors and investors.
The mission of the AUC Venture Lab is twofold: to help Egyptian startups commercialize their innovative technologies and business models into viable ventures that contribute to economic growth, competitiveness and job creation, and to provide a learning and research platform for the AUC community to connect with entrepreneurs.
AUC Venture Lab targets startups that are high-growth and innovation-driven. The program runs in two cycles per year. Each cycle includes around ten startups. The lab provides these startups with an intensive acceleration experience for three months, followed by a longer incubation cycle of a year.
Bahrain Fintech Hub – Manama, Bahrain
Venture Acceleration is a customized program designed to accelerate growth and maximize opportunity for fintech ventures focused on strategic expansion into Bahrain and the region. The program aims to accelerate commercial development by introducing new innovative products, services and solutions to the high growth Bahraini market through our influential partners.
It is provided by Bahrain Fintech Bay, a fintech hub in the Middle East and Africa. It aims to act as a launchpad that provides a dedicated fintech co-working space, with state of the art meeting rooms, innovation labs, acceleration programs, curated activities and educational opportunities.
The Barclays Accelerator – Tel Aviv, Israel
The Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is an award-winning 13-week intensive startup program designed to shape and scale the next generation of fintech businesses. Since 2014, it’s connected startups to mentors from across Techstars’ and Barclays’ global network of clients, partners and experts, with a focus on creating breakthrough solutions to solve some of our industry’s biggest challenges.
Techstars and Barclays each take a small equity stake in the common stock of each company, with Techstars taking 4% and Barclays 2%.
Citi Ventures – Tel Aviv, Israel
Citi Ventures accelerates innovation at scale through strategic partnerships and a comprehensive set of programs that combine the best of the external innovation ecosystem with Citi’s internal efforts to embrace new skills and new ways of working.
Citi Ventures pursues a multi-pronged approach to innovation that actively explores startup technologies regardless of formal investment. Citi was one of the first banks to launch a fintech accelerator in 2013, and the Tel Aviv-based program has since supported seven classes with 68 startups graduating from the four-month program, raising over US$350 million.
Fintech Hive – Dubai, UAE
Launched in partnership with Accenture, the 2018 Fintech Hive Accelerator Programme edition will build on last year’s success by providing a platform for the world’s most innovative startups the opportunity to test, develop and adapt their solutions to meet the evolving needs of the region’s financial services and insurance industries.
The selected finalists undergo a 12-week program under the guidance and mentorship of the leading financial institutions and insurance companies from the Middle East and across the globe.
This year’s program will once again focus on all areas of fintech, including Islamic fintech and regtech, with a dedicated stream for insurtech.
SeedStartup – Dubai, UAE
SeedStartup is an international startup accelerator and seed venture fund with a global focus and an emphasis on diversity. The Dubai-based VC fund and startup accelerator program offers selected startups an investment of up to US$25,000 in return for a 10% equity stake.
SeedStartup invests in innovative seed stage technology startups from around the world and help bring them to market. It invests in early stage startups across the following technology sub-sectors: healthcare, travel, media, transportation, big data, enterprise, fintech and automotive.
Founders undergo an intense 3-month mentorship-driven hands-on, practical, personalized, entrepreneurship bootcamp under the close guidance of successful entrepreneurs, seasoned investors and domain experts. The mentors are top tier talent from all around the world.
Plug and Play ADGM – Abu Dhabi, UAE
Plug and Play ADGM aims to unit startups with the unrivaled tech expertise of Silicon Valley and the banks for a changing world. Its mission is to attract high quality entrepreneurial talent to Abu Dhabi who can work proactively with the major regulatory body (ADGM) and the financial institutions in the Middle East. This will represent an open innovation hub for our partners across the financial sector.
In addition to a 12-week accelerator program, Plug and Play ADGM organizes private pitch sessions with top financial institutions in the region for startups to negotiate potential pilots and PoCs. If a startup has a PoC or commercialization opportunity with a financial institution, the Plug and Play team works along side both the bank’s business units and startups to ensure the progress of the PoC/pilot stage.
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