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District 2020 announces first cohort of 85 start-ups and small businesses to move in, through Scale2Dubai programme

Future of Expo “District 2020” announces first cohort of 85 start-ups and small businesses to move in, through Scale2Dubai programme

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | 24 MARCH 2022: District 2020’s global entrepreneurship programme Scale2Dubai will welcome a first cohort of 85 start-ups and small businesses before the end of this year, joining the diverse organisations living and working in the post-Expo 2020 Dubai community. 

This marks a significant milestone in the realisation of the future plans for the Expo 2020 site and the lasting impacts it aims to have.

In a matter of days, the doors to the 4.38 sqkm Expo 2020 site will close for the final time and the work to repurpose it will begin. Eighty per cent of Expo-built structures will be reimagined and reworked to create a mixed-use, flexible environment where people can live, work and explore, and a hub for global tech innovation, with the first business tenants set to take up their places from the fourth quarter of 2022.

The human-centric city will advance the ambitions of Expo 2020 to bring diverse thinkers together to collaborate and devise solutions for a smarter, more sustainable future. Part of this will be the innovative ecosystem and community it seeks to create, encompassing Government, Fortune 500s, academic institutions, accelerators, incubators, labs, VCs, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups.

 

District 2020 seeks to play a role in enabling regional and global start-ups to scale up within Dubai, providing an ideal launchpad and gateway to access the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. By enabling start-ups and small businesses through its Scale2Dubai programme, District 2020 builds on Expo 2020’s efforts to fund and empower innovating budding businesses with the potential to create long-term positive economic and social impacts. Start-ups are a source of job creation and will play a key role in fuelling collaboration-driven innovation across sectors, spurring new business and industry growth, while supporting the growth of the UAE and region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The immense interest in the Scale2Dubai programme attracted more than 3,200 applications from 129 countries, illustrating the status of Dubai as the preferred location for start-ups looking to expand their global footprint. With one of the world’s most conducive business environments for a wide range of sectors, the UAE has earned a reputation as a particularly promising start-up ecosystem, with an aim to become the leading global start-up ecosystem by 2031. Around 95 per cent of the country’s firms are SMEs or start-ups, employing 42 per cent of its workers and accounting for more than 40 per cent of its GDP. And, as one of the world’s most connected cities, which leads the Arab region in innovation rankings, Dubai offers opportunities to innovate in tech-driven sectors, as well as connect with global potential partners and customers.  Tala Al Ansari, Director, Innovation Ecosystem and Scale2Dubai, said: “This is an exciting milestone that reiterates District 2020’s commitment to continuing Expo 2020’s legacy of supporting entrepreneurs and contributing to Dubai’s status as an innovation-driven global start-up capital.

Only 50 per cent of start-ups make it to their fifth year, so we are proud to have designed a programme that supports them on this journey and eagerly look forward to welcoming Cohort 1 to District 2020 during Q4 of this year. We plan to host a new cohort every year at District 2020 and look forward to our second cohort moving in by April 2023.”

 The first cohort of 85 promising businesses from 27 countries were selected from 628 shortlisted applications, each of which went through a rigorous evaluation by three judges from a technically qualified pool of 50. 

Anchor tenants DP World, Siemens, Siemens Energy and Terminus Technologies will also play a key role in developing tech-driven solutions as global industry leaders. They will collaborate with the budding enterprises that will come through Scale2Dubai, and will also play a pivotal role in contributing fresh thinking, bringing innovative solutions to the fore and feeding these into the ecosystem, for true co-creation that will drive the smarter, more sustainable future District 2020 hopes to exemplify.

 

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