Hub71 Chief Operating Officer Jida Itani said aA strong response to the coronavirus pandemic in the UAE allowed doubling the number of start-ups housed at the Abu Dhabi entrepreneurship centre in the past 18 months.
Itani said companies reported a doubling in venture capital funding and an average revenue increase of 35 percent after joining.
“Competition [to attract start-ups] is so fierce,” she told The National. “But what Abu Dhabi has to offer today is really powerful.”
The pandemic showed Itani that Abu Dhabi is ready to learn lessons quickly and has an advantage over other cities in terms of safety and livability – something the marketing expert can sell to founders looking to build teams here.
Today, Itani said Hub71 is ready to compete on a global level amid a breakneck race to attract talent.
A remodeled incentive program and a growing pool of venture capital funding indicates Hub71 is maturing.
Governments, including South Korea, Spain, Brazil, Singapore and Israel, are providing some combination of incentives or subsidies, tax breaks and more agile policymaking to attract entrepreneurs.
Vibrant start-up ecosystems are a critical part of growing an economy, according to the Harvard Business Review, which found that a pool of talent and applied science will drive job creation, new businesses and investment.
Hub71 opened its doors at Abu Dhabi Global Market more than two years ago through a partnership between the emirate’s Mubadala Investment Company, Abu Dhabi Investment Office, Softbank Vision Fund and Microsoft.
The centre tapped into the government’s Ghadan 21 stimulus fund to offer Dh1 billion in investment and cost-of-living subsidies to start-ups that opened for business in the hub.
To date, Hub71 has accepted 129 start-ups into its competitive incentive programme, which began by offering subsidised housing, health insurance and office space for the first two years.
But Ms Itani said that the programme is being overhauled to incorporate what Hub71 has learnt about founders’ needs.