Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) announced the inception of SANDBOX, the region’s novel start-up program aimed to assist early-stage technology-based startups in raising funds and augmenting their business. The program, which launched at GITEX Future Stars in October 2021, has received more than 600 applications from startups and entrepreneurs within four months of its launch.
Out of the multitude of applicants, only 12 tech-focused startups have been accepted to join the year-long program developed and run by DSO’s tech hub and co-working space, Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus.
“Nearly 95 percent of the companies operating in Dubai are SMEs, and they employ 42 percent of the workforce in the private sector. Nonetheless, there is a gap in funding for early-stage startups and entrepreneurs. This program addresses precisely that requirement,” said Dr. Juma Al Matrooshi, Director General of Dubai Silicon Oasis. He added that the program supports start-ups, focusing on those who have innovative and promising tech-driven innovations, to have a chance in the challenging world of UAE businesses.
Build on the six key pillars of product development, traction, scaling, financial diagnostics, legal support, and wellness, SANDBOX, DTEC’s landmark program, will nurture the existing spirited community of entrepreneurs in the MENA’s largest tech hub. SANDBOX participants have access to leading venture capital funds and broad services provided by DTEC’s partners along with exclusive company setup rates from DTEC, which recognizes the importance of helping startups in their early stages.
The early-stage startups that make up the first group of the program include Delivers.ai, an autonomous network of robots focusing on last-mile delivery; Ingeniodata, an IoT company that offers an indoor wayfinding solution merging map augmented reality; Revent, a specialized B2C marketplace dedicated to pre-owned devices; Distichain, a platform that delivers white-label B2B marketplaces-as-a-service using blockchain and artificial intelligence and many other promising companies. The startups will follow an organized curriculum, including practical and theoretical workshops, networking opportunities, and mentorship sessions. Participants will highly benefit from the 200+ hours of practical workshops that place focus on the six pillars as well as 100+ hours of one-on-one mentorship with industry experts and practitioners.
“When we first envisioned SANDBOX, we were confident it would grab the attention of the entrepreneurial world, and we are proud to see so many come forward to apply. It was a tough process to go through all the applications and to shortlist a handful, but the program follows a rolling application process, so we’re happy to keep registration doors open. We are excited to see what these 12 chosen startups will do with their time and experience here,” continued Dr. Al Matrooshi.
According to the Dubai FDI monitor data, FDI reinvestment projects accounted for 11% of the total FDI projects in the Emirate. Meanwhile, job creation due to GDI rose 36% as compared to 2020 in the first nine months of 2021, creating a total of 16,430 new jobs. During the period, the total number of FDI projects increased by 16%, of which as much as 58% of inbound FDI is in strategic sectors, and 52% is in greenfield projects.