SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 23 October 2021, Saturday |

Google invites applications for third edition of Mena start-up accelerator

Google is inviting applications from technology entrepreneurs for the third edition of its major start-up programme for the Mena region, as it continues to help budding companies speed up their development in an increasingly competitive sector.

The three-month digital accelerator programme is aimed at technology start-ups based in the region between Seed to Series A stage, and will run online starting from January. Selected start-ups for the third cohort will be revealed by the end of November, the world’s largest internet company said on Wednesday.

“Those selected will gain access to Google mentorship, technical support, training programmes and workshops as well as connections to venture capitalists,” Google said. It added that applications will be accepted until October 14.

“It’s always an honour to witness the level of passion and confidence the start-ups have as they work towards making their dreams a reality,” said Salim Abid, regional lead of the Mena developer ecosystem at Google.

The UAE has become a hotbed for start-ups, thanks to its transparent policies, tech infrastructure and the government’s initiatives.

In Abu Dhabi, Hub 71 was launched to support start-ups by attracting venture capital funds and investors to expand the pool of available capital. Dubai has also taken measures to support start-ups, including hosting an event next year to attract venture capitalists to the region.

The emirate’s Department of Economic Development, through its Dubai SME agency, reported that 50 per cent of companies operating there are start-ups.

Mena start-ups raised $1.2 billion in funding in the first half of 2021, 64 per cent higher than the previous year, with the UAE leading in terms of deals, capturing 61 per cent of total investments, according to data platform Magnitt.

Among the most successful homegrown ventures are ride-hailing service Careem, which became a subsidiary of Uber following a $3.1 billion deal in 2020, and online marketplace Souq.com, which was bought by Amazon for $650 million in 2017 and was rebranded as Amazon.ae.

On Tuesday, UAE digital payments platform Zbooni secured $9.5m in its latest funding round to help its regional expansion.

Besides Google, a number of global brands in the tech space have launched similar support programmes for start-ups, including the US software company Oracle.