Sharjah ranks 7 among top MENA startup ecosystems for innovation - GulfToday

Sharjah ranks 7 among top MENA startup ecosystems for innovation


Sheraa has played a pivotal role in redefining Sharjah’s startup landscape.

Ranked seventh of the Top 10 MENA startup ecosystems by ‘Performance’, the emirate of Sharjah has been recognised by the 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) as a high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystem. This achievement marks a milestone in the emirate’s vision of becoming a world-class startup hub.

The report was published by Startup Genome, a global policy advisory and research organisation for governments and public-private partnerships, in partnership with Sheraa. It illustrates the high-growth potential of the UAE’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and Sharjah’s leading role in nurturing talent and innovation in the startup space.

In recognition of its advancements in becoming a founder-friendly startup city, the GSER 2021 has named Sharjah among the top 10 MENA Ecosystem in ‘Performance’ determined by the size and performance of an ecosystem based on the accumulated tech startup value created from exits and funding; and top 10 MENA Ecosystem in ‘Talent & Experience’ based on the ability to identify and retain talent in the ecosystem.

At the forefront of Sharjah’s ambitious plans to nurture and empower new generations of talented founders, the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) has played a pivotal role in redefining the emirate’s startup landscape while enriching entrepreneurial opportunities for the region too. Over the past five years, Sheraa has supported 114 startups from diverse sectors such as digital media, edtech, healthtech, femtech to name a few, generating $130 million in revenue, and raising $87 million in capital.

Commenting on Sharjah’s rank in 2021 GSER as a leading regional hub for startups, Sheraa CEO Najla Al Midfa said, “Sharjah has been strategically pushing forward towards creating a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and is being recognised by global authorities like the Startup Genome and Global Entrepreneurship Network. The emirate has always been at the forefront of innovation – be that as a trade hub, the region’s centre of art and cultural activities, and now as an inspiring entrepreneurial destination. Government support through business-friendly policies, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and availability of top-tier talent have elevated Sharjah’s position on the startup world map.”

“Sharjah has been the launchpad for numerous high-potential startups from the region and beyond, empowering a community of mission-driven founders by turning their disruptive ideas into impactful businesses. We will continue our drive to identify and incubate innovative and creative startups solving some of the world’s greatest challenges through entrepreneurial endeavours, whilst diversifying Sharjah and the UAE’s economy,” Al Midfa concluded

Further, as a first-of-its-kind initiative, Sheraa has launched the Sharjah Startup Studio (S3), a government-backed startup studio, to support early-stage impact entrepreneurs with funding, mentorship, and logistical assistance to set up businesses in the emirate.

Moreover, free zones such as Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP); Sharjah Media City (Shams); and top-notch educational institutes are boosting the entrepreneurial ecosystem by attracting regional and global talent.

The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre and the Ministry of Culture and Youth recently launched the Access Sharjah Challenge with an equity-free prize pool of $100,000 open to top start-ups from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Inspired by the United Nations General Assembly’s declaration of 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, the competition is in line with Sheraa’s mission to support start-ups in the creative sectors. It supports innovative, creative, and tech-savvy start-ups from around the region by connecting them with the private and public sectors to reach their target market and stimulate innovation in the UAE.

In a strategic partnership with the Sharjah Museums Authority, Alef Group and Air Arabia, the competition is looking for innovative start-ups operating in the following sectors under the creative industry: Cultural and Natural Heritage; Performance and Celebration; Visual Arts and Crafts; Audio Visual and Interactive Media; Design and Creative Services; and Books and Press.

Start-ups fulfilling the following criteria are encouraged to apply; the start-up should be revenue-generating, have at least one successful implementation of its solution, one full-time founder and headquartered in the MENA region.

The challenge offers myriad benefits, starting with a grant of up to $50,000, composing of $25,000 towards an implementation contract to bring their projects to life at Alef properties and Sharjah Museum spaces, $15,000 in cash and $10,000 towards business setup support, in addition to operational business support services including discounted office space and banking services, mentoring from Sheraa’s in-house team and their community of mentors, and access to market.


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