8 MENA Startups Win Hub71 MENA Growth Competition
MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab and Hub71 have announced eight winners for the second edition of the Hub71 MENA Growth Competition.
The selected winners were drawn from a pool of MITEF Arab Startup Competition semi-finalists 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 Programme which includes 50 or 100 percent subsidised housing, office space, and medical insurance for founders and its employees for up to three years – worth up to AED3 million (US$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 percent decrease in number of deals made in March 2020, compared to March 2019.
As startups look for improved access to capital, entrepreneurs have also realised the importance of strong and reliable ecosystems as well as favourable government policies that support startups during challenging times caused by the pandemic.
Hub71 has also recently announced a pandemic 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 percent 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 1st June 2020 where judges picked eight winners from ten finalists of this years’ Hub71 MENA Growth Competition 2.0.
Among the winners is Egypt's Praxilabs, an EdTech startup that 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. Another winner, 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.
The HealthTech sector saw Basma, a Lebanon-based medical device company that re-imagines and reinvent the way orthodontic and restorative treatment is presented and delivered to thousands of people, among the competition winners.
Commenting on the demo day proceedings, 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 maximise the use of the Hub71 Incentive Programme offered, in addition to being in the heart of a continuously evolving innovation hub in Abu Dhabi."
For his part, Nader Museitif, Head of Partnerships and Business Development at Hub71, said, "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 Programme.
"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 percent increase in startup investments between 2015 and 2018, showing the maturation of the tech ecosystem in the region.