Tech leaders, high-level speakers and investors will converge at the region’s biggest start-up event from December 6-9
Tech entrepreneurs are preparing their pitches and gearing up for GITEX Future Stars, which is the largest start-up showcase event in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia – and one of the only face-to-face events of its kind in 2020. Co-located with GITEX Technology Week, the five-day Future Stars features a host of accomplished speakers, including none other than John Cleese, a legend of British comedy who will give a 45-minute talk on bringing creativity to business.
In focus will be 19 industry sectors, with everything from the latest agricultural tech solutions for farming and food security to blockchain-powered music apps and the next generation of self-learning AI on show. It’s a great chance to see how some of the world’s brightest business minds have responded to the coronavirus challenge, which has upended a broad swathe of industries from education to travel and healthcare.
Topics to be discussed include policy protections for innovation, how to thrive in the coronavirus economy, breaking the scale-up ceiling and the future of work. Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of global education platform Coursera, and Joy Ajlouny, Co-founder of UAE-based, Silicon Valley-backed door-to-door delivery platform Fetchr.
Start-up founders will also be keen to put themselves in the shop window, with $200,000 in prizes to be had in the world’s third-biggest pitching competition. The categories include best AI, Emirati, female-led, fintech, youth and Covid-19 solution start-ups. Companies younger than five years that use tech in their product will be evaluated on level of innovation, potential, their team, product functionality and social impact.
This year will also see investor attendance from previously non-participating markets, with some of the biggest names in the regional tech venture capital space making an appearance and delivering keynote talks.
Start-ups and the UAE
Start-ups are hugely important to the UAE. According to figures published late last year by the Ministry of Economy, SMEs make up more than 94 per cent of companies operating in the country, while early-stage start-ups represent nearly half of the companies working in Dubai. The government sees the development of SMEs as a key aspect of its long-term plan to diversify away from hydrocarbon revenues and achieve its sustainability goals.
The country is home to a number of free zones that are specialised in various sectors, including technology. These special economic zones offer incentives for start-ups in terms of amenities, access to accelerators and seed funding, and their status as a hub for companies operating in similar spheres.
Start-ups exhibiting at Future Stars have the chance at a free fellowship with the Founder Institute, the world’s largest pre-seed accelerator. Click here to register and learn more about what’s on at GITEX Future Stars 2020.