Sheraa’s global initiative to support health and food tech startups - GulfToday

Sheraa’s global initiative to support health and food tech startups


The UCAN initiative is looking for entrepreneurs working on socially-minded innovations specifically under the two tracks of ‘Healing the World’ for healthtech and ‘Feeding the Future’ for foodtech.

Business Bureau, Gulf Today

The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) is launching ‘UCAN’ or the Ubuntu Care And Nurture initiative with a $250,000 equity-free prize purse open to top startups from the Middle East and Africa. The platform aims to empower entrepreneurs invested in creating high-impact tangible solutions for current and pressing global challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UCAN initiative is looking for entrepreneurs working on socially-minded innovations specifically under the two tracks of ‘Healing the World’ for healthtech and ‘Feeding the Future’ for foodtech.To be eligible for the competition, startups must have a fully developed product or minimum viable product (MVP), showcase growth and impact, and be interested in expanding to the MENA market.

Finalists will be selected in both categories, and will have to pitch their ventures to a jury of prominent industry experts. Winning startups in each track will be awarded a $100,000 grant each, while runners-up will receive a grant of $25,000 each.

UbuntuLoveChallenge: Part of Sheraa’s wider response to the COVID-19 crisis, UCAN reinforces their commitment to the #UbuntuLoveChallenge – a global movement founded by Sheraa Chairperson Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi and Africa 2.0 Foundation founder Mamadou Kwidjim Toure, to inspire changemakers worldwide to actively help their communities during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.

Previously, in May, Sheraa launched a $1million solidarity fund to help startups that are under strain due to the coronavirus pandemic through grants, commissioned projects and competitions.

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Announcing the launch of UCAN, Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, said the new initiative seeks to harness the potential of entrepreneurs to generate positive social impact through tech-enabled ventures, particularly in the industries most relevant to a post-COVID world.

“UCAN reinforces Sheraa’s commitment to fostering a vibrant culture of impactful entrepreneurship, and we are excited to be expanding our efforts globally in partnership with the Ubuntu Love Challenge. Through this initiative, we want to support startups whose unique health-tech and food-tech solutions are meeting the urgent needs of not just the communities they serve but the world at large. These talented changemakers are everywhere, and we aim to ensure they have a platform that elevates the impact they’re making.”  

Prizes and benefits Alongside notable financial rewards, Sheraa will facilitate the winning startups’ entry into the fast-developing MENA region market, widen their network of connections with the UAE’s leading public and private entities, and also arrange virtual mentorship sessions with experts from around the world.

Additionally, Sheraa will leverage its partnership with the Sharjah Research, Technology, And Innovation Park (SRTIP) to enable winning entrepreneurs’ avail several incentives and subsidies in the form of free licensing and office set up support. Global partner GEN Accelerates also provides all startup applicants with a comprehensive content library to help strengthen their applications. Selected startups will also get exclusive access to media and PR support services via Sheraa’s partnership with Entrepreneur Middle East.

Finally, Sheraa will enable winners of UCAN gain access to conferences, networking opportunities and mentorship with industry experts to build their presence in the region, scale up and grow.

Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center and CE-Ventures have recently disbursed more than Dhs700,000 in equity-free grants to 11 startups, offering them a lifeline to ensure they remain afloat as they navigate current economic challenges.

The 11 selected startups operate in the retail, real estate, fintech, travel and tourism, agriculture, education, technology and creative sectors. Sheraa and CE-Ventures’ effort to support local industries is part of Sharjah’s keen interest in promoting and supporting startups in a variety of sectors that continue to contribute to the emirate’s strong and diversified economy.

This joint fund falls under the #UbuntuLoveChallenge, a global initiative spearheaded by Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sheraa, and Mamadou Kwidjim Toure, founder of the Africa 2.0 Foundation. The collaboration between CE-Ventures and Sheraa follows Sheraa’s $1 million Startup Solidarity Fund announcement made earlier this year.ested to the startup’s performance, based upon revenue and profitability prior to the pandemic, as well as their ability to mitigate the current negative impact of COVID-19. Apart from technical assessments, the shortlisting process also reviewed the startup teams’ competencies and expertise, to help gauge their capacity to manage their business during the present crisis, and capability to effectively utilize incoming funds to grow their businesses.

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