The day everyone has been waiting for is finally here!
We're excited to announce the name of the winners for the second edition of Hub71 MENA Growth Competition. The competition selected winners drawn from a pool of MITEF Arab Startup Competition semifinalists of the past three editions (11th, 12th, and 13th edition).
Over 50 startups from across the MENA region applied for the chance to be accepted into the Abu Dhabi-based Hub71 Incentive Program which includes 50 or 100 per cent subsidized housing, office space, and medical insurance for founders and its employees for up to three years – worth up to AED 3.0 million ($800,000) in equity-free subsidies. The tech ecosystem based in the heart of Abu Dhabi also offers startups mentorship, global market potential and capital through its network of strategic partners such as Mubadala, SoftBank Vision Fund, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Abu Dhabi Investment Office, and Microsoft.
The competition marks a new turning point for the MENA startup community which has seen a 67% decrease in number of deals made in March 2020, compared to March 2019. As startups look for improved access to capital, entrepreneurs have also realized the importance of strong and reliable ecosystems as well as favorable government policies that support startups during challenging times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hub71 has also recently announced a COVID-19 support package that would cover the housing and office space rent of all its existing 50+ startups’ employees for two months, which further solidifies the commitment from Abu Dhabi and Hub71 to support and grow its tech startup ecosystem.
Half of this year’s applicants are from Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia and are seed stage startups. Sixty-three per cent of applicants said they applied because of the equity-free incentives. Of the applicants, the top three sectors represented were: HealthTech, AgriTech and EdTech.
The competition culminated in an online demo day on June 1, 2020 where judges picked 8 winners from 10 finalists of this years’ Hub71 MENA Growth Competition 2.0.
- Praxilabs (Egypt) Edtech: PraxiLabs aims to provide equal opportunity for an enhanced STEM education for students everywhere by providing 3D interactive virtual simulations of science labs that are accessible, usable, and affordable for educational institutions and students alike.
- Basma (Lebanon) Healthtech: Crystalign Technology is a medical device company that is changing lives through better smiles. They re-imagine and reinvent the way orthodontic and restorative treatment is presented and delivered to thousands of people around the world through their network of Crystalign-trained doctors.
- Trella (Egypt) Logistics: Trella is a technology platform that connects shippers to carriers in the widely fragmented freight industry with a mission to induce structure with a goal of improving efficiency throughout the entire supply chain.
- Augmental (Lebanon) Edtech: Augmental adaptive learning provides complementary online tools to class curriculum and provides educators access to student progress enabling them to customize their learning material. Each student's learning is self-directed through an immersive experience according to their unique needs.
- Tawazon (Palestine) Healthtech: Tawazon is the First Meditation, Mindfulness & Sleep App in Arabic worldwide. Tawazon seeks to improve the daily life of the Arab person & families by providing daily, short, and scientifically proven meditation sessions.
- arabee (UAE) Edtech: ‘arabee’ is a multi-format Arabic language program for teaching Arabic to children aged 3-12 years. The program focuses on teaching all four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. arabee caters to all types of learners, visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, reading and writing exercises.
- Widebot (Egypt) Digital Technologies: WideBot is the first Arabic-focused bot builder platform that gives a tool to businesses in MENA to build smart chatbots without coding in a few minutes.
- Mint Basil Market (Lebanon) Ecommerce: Mint Basil Market is on a mission to make healthy living easy and accessible to all. Mint Basil Market works with a community of health experts to curate unique content and a wide-collection of healthy and natural products, including food, natural beauty and cosmetics, and eco-friendly household cleaning products to help their customers make more informed purchasing decisions.
Commenting on the demo day, Maya Rahal, Managing Director at MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, said: “Our alumni continue to prove they are adaptable to change and tenacious towards any obstacle they face. This year’s all-digital edition of the Hub71 MENA Growth Competition was truly a successful experiment for all of us. MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab trusts that this year’s winners of the competition will maximize the use of the Hub71 Incentive Program offered, in addition to being in the heart of a continuously evolving innovation hub in Abu Dhabi. Again, we want to congratulate all the finalists, especially the winners, for making it this far in their entrepreneurial journey.”
Nader Museitif, Head of Partnerships and Business Development at Hub71, commented: “Abu Dhabi is increasingly proving to be a safe and appealing city for many MENA founders, so it was exciting to see so many bold, ambitious and inspiring MENA startups pitch for the opportunity to win a spot in the Hub71 Incentive Program. From Abu Dhabi’s growing tech ecosystem, these startups will be taking their first steps into scaling their businesses. We are glad to have selected 8 startups from MIT Enterprise Forum from the UAE, Lebanon, Egypt, and Palestine; and we look forward to welcoming them into our growing global community.”
The Hub71 MENA Growth Competition, which also took place in 2019, is part of a bigger push to improve the opportunities for MENA-based tech startups who have collectively seen a 222% increase in startup investments between 2015 – 2018, showing the maturation of the tech ecosystem in the region.
Again, all of us at MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab and Hub71 want to congratulate the winners and we hope to continue impacting the growth and development of the regional startup ecosystem together.