Looking to make an entry into the UAE and MENA markets? startAD’s Venture Launchpad can help accelerate your journey


In 2018, the total amount of investments made in startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region was $893 million, 31 percent higher than in 2017, according to a report from MAGNiTT.

As governments in this region are taking a proactive approach, it has seen a surge in startup activity in the last few years. With plenty of potential for young companies to grow and expand, the region is now being seen as a favourable destination for companies looking to build a presence in this part of the world.

And helping them secure a strong foothold are global accelerators like startAD. Based in Abu Dhabi, startAD helps early-stage technology startups launch, develop, scale their ventures, and pilot solutions in collaboration with industry leaders. Situated at NYU Abu Dhabi, the accelerator is backed by Tamkeen, an Abu Dhabi government-owned company.

startAD’s Venture Launchpad is a 10-day sprint accelerator designed to help startups venture into the UAE and MENA markets, and easily find their way around. The programme helps them rapidly refine, improve, and validate their business models that have been customised for the region. It enables startups to pilot solutions with industry leaders, while giving corporates an opportunity to co-innovate with startups.

The programme’s corporate partners include real estate developer IMKAN, leading MENA construction and contracting firm CCC and government partners include Abu Dhabi Municipality and Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC).

Five successful batches who have graduated since the sprint accelerator’s launch in 2017 have seen 100 startups being accelerated, $10 million in investment being raised, and 15 pilot projects taking off with startAD’s corporate partners.

Applications are now open for the 6th edition of the 2019 Venture Launchpad.

Why startAD?

Apart from state-of-the-art facilities, the sprint accelerator gives startups an opportunity to interact with and learn from experts who have relevant domain expertise, and participate in local customer discovery and validation activities through a combination of training, mentorship, partner roundtables, investor pitches and ecosystem showcases.

The Venture Launchpad is tailored to fit the specific stage and sector focus of the cohort in terms of the content as well as training /mentoring.

What’s in it for you?

There’s a host of benefits in store for participating startups, including opportunities to secure pilots and PoCs with leading corporations and government entities in the areas of construction, infrastructure and real-estate, a cash prize worth $10,000 in the form of the Imkan Innovation Award, a chance to benefit from startAD’s extensive global network of investors, mentors, and experts, and access to startAD’s seed fund for local startups.  What’s more, during the 10-week programme, the startups get one-on-one mentoring from domain experts who have both deep global experience as well as extensive knowledge about the local ecosystem.

Experts who will be mentoring and guiding the startups include trainers from UC Berkley, serial entrepreneurs, technology experts, and industry experts. In short, the programme can help you:

  • Scale your startup in the UAE
  • Refine your product and design
  • Benefit from a series of training and mentorship sessions with leading global experts
  • Become investor ready with pitching and fundraising training
  • Get a chance to pitch to local angel investor community
  • Be considered for the startAD seed fund from $50,000 to $250,000
  • Get access to Al Warsha, a prototyping lab and coworking space

Also, unlike some other programmes, on showcase day, startAD gives startups the opportunity to present their ventures to the programme partners, as well make a one-one-one pitches to a panel of matched investors, which increases their chances of making an impression on the right people.

Who can apply?

Early stage startups working in the area of Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and hardware startups with solutions for industries including construction, real estate development and infrastructure are eligible to apply.

Startups should have at least a ready to pilot product and be composed of a committed founding team of at least two members. In addition, other criteria for selection include the team’s strength and experience, its business model, the kind of innovation they apply and the fit with programme partners.

The programme will run from April 20 to April 30, and the showcase day will take place on April 30.

This is a great opportunity for startups who are looking to make an entry into the MENA region and  showcase their products and build connections within the entrepreneurial ecosystem here, to expand their network and advance their business.

Head here to know more about the programme and apply to the startAD Venture Launchpad today. Hurry, last date to receive applications is March 24.


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