A grand view of the Dubai International Financial Centre in Dubai.
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, on Tuesday officially announced the launch of its venture building programme, ‘DIFC Launchpad’. The initiative seeks to develop a strong venture building model that promotes the growth of innovative start-ups and scale-ups in the region.
Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and President of DIFC, said that Dubai continues to consolidate its position as a global hub for innovation and FinTech and a major destination for talent and entrepreneurship. Guided by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, we seek to reinforce Dubai’s status as a leading platform for innovative ventures from around the world, and establish the city as the capital of the digital economy, Sheikh Maktoum said.
“The launch of ‘DIFC Launchpad’ is set to further attract innovative companies and enhance the emirate’s appeal as a city that supports business growth and success. The launch of the platform also serves as an important step towards realising the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, which aims to double the size of Dubai’s economy and consolidate its position as one of the world’s top four financial centres over the next decade. It also supports efforts to realise DIFC’s 2030 strategy to catalyse new job creation and economic development in both the financial and non-financial services industry,” Sheikh Maktoum said.
The inaugural event was attended by Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, and a host of dignitaries, business leaders and partners. The ‘DIFC Launchpad’ programme expects to support the launch of more than 200 new ventures, with over 100 of them being scale-ups that will collectively create over 8,000 new jobs and attract over US$544 million (Dhs2 billion) in venture capital, he noted.
The event drew focus to the significant role that FinTech and Innovation firms play in Dubai’s economy, and how DIFC and its partners are contributing to the sector’s growth. DIFC FinTech and Innovation firms raised over US$600 million (AED2.2 billion) in 2022 alone, making it the fastest-growing sector in DIFC. A total of 291 new FinTech and Innovation firms had joined DIFC last year, representing a 36 percent increase year-on-year, taking the total to 686.
With ‘DIFC Launchpad’, Dubai is well positioned to become the global hub for venture building, and the programme is expected to have a far-reaching impact on the region’s economic growth.
AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of Mashreq, said, ‘DIFC Launchpad’ represents an incredible opportunity for us to come together to help catalyse the digital transformation of the financial sector here in the UAE and around the world. Through our contributions to SME development, and as a leading proponent of open banking, we recognise the importance of collaboration and are committed to helping others realise their potential and to unleashing the spirit of enterprise. We very much look forward to working with our corporate partners at ‘DIFC Launchpad’, and to nurturing new ideas and emerging talent.”
Essa Kazim said, “We are thrilled to officially launch ‘DIFC Launchpad’ with our partners, an initiative that is aligned with DIFC’s broader 2030 strategy to drive growth of innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. DIFC is providing a unique platform for its partners to access global networks, expertise, funding, mentorship and a range of other resources, that will help them to succeed through ‘DIFC Launchpad’. We are excited to see the impact that this platform will have in supporting the next generation of FinTech and Innovation companies and driving economic growth in Dubai and beyond.”
A highlight of the event was also the announcement of the ‘DIFC Venture Studio Regulations’, the world’s first legislative framework for venture building. The new regulations will facilitate the ease of doing business within the venture studio model and help create a tailored ecosystem for venture building, entrepreneurs, start-ups and investors.
Arif Amiri, CEO, DIFC, commented, “Innovation is at the centre of transformative change. The ‘DIFC Launchpad’ presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs, venture studios and corporations from around the world to access the support and resources they need to grow and succeed, powered by DIFC Innovation Hub. ‘DIFC Launchpad’ is creating a platform that leverages our unique position in the ecosystem to help members identify and structure impactful partnerships, investments, and co-creation opportunities.”
The ‘DIFC Launchpad’ programme is supported by multinational experts specialised in new venture creation, corporate innovation and emerging technologies, who will be working closely with DIFC’s investor bases and corporate partners Mashreq, Mastercard and Commercial Bank of Dubai to create and launch the next generation of global FinTech start-ups in Dubai. To scale venture building activities across a range of verticals, ‘DIFC Launchpad’ attracted some of the world’s leading venture studios to Dubai including R/GA, Antler, BIM Ventures, and Futurelabs.