It is like having a front-row seat to the global market

Past July, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab and Hub71 (a Mubadala initiative) inked a new strategic partnership, one which leverages both their networks and expertise in enabling the MENA startup ecosystem through mentorship, financing and long-term support.

This first outcome of this partnership is the inaugural edition of the ‘Hub71 MENA Growth Competition, powered by MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab’, where 10 of the best MENA-based startups pitched their way to growing their businesses from Abu Dhabi, supported by a generous incentive package, entrepreneur visas, and specialized corporate support.

The 10 finalist startups come from 6 MENA countries and were previously announced in a blog post published on Bracket.

In preparation for the demo day, all 10 finalists came to Abu Dhabi to take part in an intensive training program that was designed and executed by the team at Astrolabs, who took into consideration the level of growth of each finalist, and potential weaknesses in their pitches.

Specifically, the 2-day training program delved into perfecting a startup pitch through a series of hands-on exercises and feedback cycles, where the finalists received questions from their fellow contestants in an effort to improve and clarify any misunderstanding. Also, the training organically engaged with the finalists in one-on-one mentorship roundtables, which allowed each participating startup to get practical advice on growth hacking, legal obstacles, and facts on scaling a tech startup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

On demo day, 3 winners were selected by a panel of judges to win the following prizes, which are provided by Hub71’s main partners like Aldar, Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health (DoH), and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM):

  • 100% subsidized housing, office space and medical insurance (collectively “subsidies”) for companies that have less than 5 employees and have raised around 300,000$ in rounds of funding (valid for 2 years)
  • 50% subsidies for emerging companies that have less than 25 employees and have raised more than 500,000$ in funding (valid for 3 years)
  • Relocation costs from home to Abu Dhabi for founder and employees
  • For startups with under five employees, 100% living, office space and health insurance subsidies for two years for every member
  • For startups with six to 25 employees, 50% living, office space and health insurance subsidies for three years for every member
  • Entry into accelerator programs via Techstars and Plug&Play ADGM
  • Mentorship, coaching and a dedicated ‘resident success team’
  • Application to the ‘Start-up Matched Funds’ via Ghadan Ventures Fund

The event was open for the public and attracted around 100 stakeholders from the regional startup ecosystem to celebrate the achievement made by the entrepreneurs and to network.

The day officially started with a discussion panel titled ‘Harnessing the power of human Capital: How startup hubs can attract and retain talent’, which was moderated by Aby Thomas (Entrepreneur Magazine), and featured the following speakers: Huda Kalash (Business Manager at, Robyn Brazzil (Director at startAD), Amer Al Ameri (COO at Abu Dhabi Investment Office), and Sahiqa Bennet (CEO of Searchie).

Commenting on the competition, Hala Fadel (Chair at MITEF Pan Arab) said: 'Hub71 is a rising star in the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem. By developing the right type of partnerships, adopting ‘SME-friendly’ policies, and investing in the knowledge economy sector, Abu Dhabi has transformed its economy to empower entrepreneurs build technological solutions that hold the potential to scale globally. Today, we are proud that 3 of our Arab Startup Competition alumni will win the opportunity to work alongside Hub71, who will allow them to realize their full potential.'

Also, Mahmoud Adi (CEO of Hub71) mentioned: 'The quality of the finalists this year is a testament to a maturing MENA region. Over the last three days, we’ve been proud to host ten startups from across the region who have flown to Abu Dhabi to participate in an intensive workshop to vie for three winning spots in the Hub71 MENA Growth Competition 2019. The winners Addenda (UAE), Furnwish (Egypt), ProvenMed International will be relocating their businesses to Hub71 in the coming months to take advantage of attractive incentive packages worth up to USD $950 thousand and will also benefit from lucrative corporate partnerships. Hub71 is a global launchpad for growth. We are very excited for the three winning startups as they embark on the next phase of their journey.

After the 10 pitches, the judges deliberated internally on who the winners are:

  • Addenda: a UAE-based startup bringing trust to the insurance industry, one block at a time.
  • Furnwish: an Egypt-based AR & AI-enabled tech company, targeting furniture gallery owners by allowing them to visualize every product in proportionate measurements.
  • Provenmed Global: an innovative medical device company with worldwide patented incontinence care products.

The winning startups will move to Abu Dhabi by the end of the year, where they will establish an office and officially become a member of Hub71’s growing community.


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