Revealed: The first businesses to emerge on the Expo 2020 Dubai site – News

85 startups from 27 countries around the world will be installed in District 2020

Published: Thu 24 Mar 2022 17:58

Last update: Thu 24 Mar 2022, 22:51

The first cohort of 85 startups and small businesses will set up shop in District 2020, the futuristic mixed-use community that will take shape on the Expo site later this year, it was announced.

Tala Al Ansari, Director of Innovation Ecosystem and Scale2Dubai, a global entrepreneurship program, said they received more than 3,200 applications for startups from 129 countries around the world.

“628 (companies) have been shortlisted, and today we are pleased to announce our first cohort of 85 scaleups from 27 countries around the world who will join us in District 2020,” Al Ansari said at a press conference on Thursday at the Expo 2020.

“These 85 startups will be given a soft landing in District 2020 and become part of our innovation ecosystem,” said Al Ansari, who leads the District 2020 innovation ecosystem curator responsible for attracting global corporate partners.

He said it reiterates “Expo 2020’s commitment and the district’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs around the world.”

With seven days to go until the curtains fall on the six-month-long world’s fair, 80 percent of the Expo-built structures on the sprawling 1.7-square-mile site will be repurposed to transform it into a 15-minute futuristic city. human-centered where people can work, live and explore. Encompassing government offices, Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions, cultural attractions, accelerators, incubators, laboratories, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and startups, District 2020 aims to attract diverse talent from around the world.

“The main spirit behind the District 2020 ecosystem is to bring together diverse thinkers and enable partnerships and carry forward the exhibition’s legacy of connecting minds and creating the future,” Al Ansari said.

Al Ansari said Scale2Dubai will now work with 85 organizations on their logistics of scaling up and being part of District 2020. He said the first cohort will first join in a virtual program in the summer and then join physically on the ground in District 2020 at depart October.

Scale2Dubai will host new cohorts annually in District 2020 and selection is now closed for cohort 2, it added.

Nadimeh Mehra, vice president of District 2020, said selected startups can operate from District 2020 rent-free for two years. “That is critical for a startup that is moving and scaling to a new organization. So we’re de-risking a lot of their operating costs,” she said.

Explaining why Dubai plays a major role in attracting the entire startup movement, Mehra said: “It is fertile ground for businesses to expand and grow.”

“The United Arab Emirates has the most active startup ecosystem in the Middle East, with 33 of the 50 most funded startups named by Forbes being headquartered in the Emirates. Among the top 10 startups on the Forbes Middle East list of the 50 most funded startups in the Middle East, seven startups were established in the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

He said that in recent years, the UAE has also become home to 17 accelerator programs, 12 incubators and seven co-working spaces. It also has a clear vision and roadmap to become a world-leading future city. This is supported by numerous initiatives and strategies, such as the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031, the Future Vision of Dubai, the Dubai Plan 2021, Smart Dubai, Dubai10x, the UAE innovation and UAE Centenary 2071.


The landmark law allowing 100% foreign ownership of companies and long-term visa reforms are the latest in a series of measures taken by the government to attract investors. “Excellent infrastructure, investor-friendly reforms, safe haven status, and strong regulations have, among other factors, helped the UAE stand out as one of the most sought-after destinations for startups in the world.” , said.

Anchor tenants such as Siemens, Siemens Energy, Terminus Technologies and DP World will also play a key role in developing technology-driven solutions and will also collaborate and help startups innovate and thrive.

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