DIFC has launched its startup incubator dubbed as the DIFC Innovation Hub.
Collectively, over 250 firms are able to work together to develop and introduce innovative solutions and business models that will redefine the future of finance with the aim of providing sustained economic growth. The environment allows businesses to develop new ideas safely and thrive at each stage of their business lifecycle.
Although over 50% of fintech startups in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are already based in DIFC, this move formalises the end-to-end DIFC Innovation Hub proposition.
The hub is expected to attract more entrepreneurs and growth companies to join the community along the accelerator and incubator programmes.
Additionally, fintech startups looking to get financially regulated can make use of the Innovation Testing License (ITL) programme, a regulatory sandbox with a clear path to a full license. They can also opt for DIFC’s broader Innovation License, a subsidised commercial license for non-regulated innovation companies.
DIFC FinTech Hive startups, an accelerator programme launched by DIFC, and those operating on theses licenses benefit from operating in the DIFC Innovation Hub because it provides access to networking and close proximity to industry experts, mentor and partner organisations.
Having access to the most active investor network is a key consideration for startups, which is why DIFC has built this into the overall DIFC Innovation Hub proposition. In addition to being considered by the DIFC FinTech Fund, venture capital firms from DIFC’s and the region’s broader ecosystem are using the DIFC Innovation Hub to identify businesses for future investment.
So far in 2020, the UAE accounts for over 60% of funds raised in the Middle East and North Africa for venture capital investment, validating the potential for DIFC-based startups to access funding.
DIFC has also enhanced its offering for venture capital firms which includes subsidised licensing and the launch of a VC framework that enables funds to setup in weeks, with high flexibility and streamlined regulatory requirements.
Having developed new ideas locally, businesses will be able to leverage DIFC’s partner network to expand into regional and international markets.
Commenting on the announcement, Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority said:
“The DIFC Innovation Hub is positioning DIFC as the leading next generation financial hub, whilst providing security and stability. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the UAE and look to the future, DIFC Innovation Hub will become a focal point for incubating and accelerating the country’s economic growth. We will transform the financial sector and deliver positive impact and sustained growth.”
The DIFC Innovation Hub is a signature initiative for the Dubai Future District announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in January 2020.