Expo 2020 Dubai opened avenues for start-ups to be recognised and flourish
Millions of visitors have been enthralled by the great diversity of offerings at Expo 2020 Dubai: ingenious architecture, incredible feats, multicultural events, and multiple lessons for the future.
The organisers of Expo 2020 Dubai also worked closely with governmental and non-governmental authorities in the UAE and abroad to present innovative entrepreneurship platforms with much success.
Last week, the Selangor Committee on Investment, Trade, Industry and Small and Medium Industries announced that Selangor Week hosted at Expo 2020 Dubai had garnered RM960.744 million worth of potential investments. Committee Chair, Datuk Teng Chang Khim told the Selangor State Assembly that they had exceeded the Malaysian federal government’s weekly target of RM500 million, by organising 158 business matches and inviting international investors to meet with the Selangor delegation of start-ups.
Last month, Estonia celebrated its National Day, with strong focus on its status as one of the world’s most digitally advanced societies. Estonian President Alar Karis said Expo 2020 Dubai attracted global interest and investment. “Expo 2020 Dubai is truly the world’s greatest show, and Estonia’s investment in the UAE, opening an embassy, trade office, and pavilion, has caught the interest of our people.” The Estonian Pavilion, which highlights the nation’s e-services and e-governance, is positioned as a lab where new start-ups can be launched — from anywhere in the world.
The Malta Pavilion is another example of connections across continents, especially for new entrants and emerging economies. Miriam Dalli, Malta’s Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development, says her pro-business government is determined to support emerging opportunities. “We work hard to attract innovative investments, particularly in the digital, green, and blue economies. To support this, we are making it easier for companies to invest, with incentive packages for start-ups.”
Last month, 16 start-ups were the stars of the Expo’s Greek Innovation Business Forum, also marking the first time a business delegation from Greece has visited the UAE. Headed by Dr Christos Dimas, Greece’s Deputy Minister of Development and Investments, the delegation interacted with the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem that the UAE is renowned for – angel and institutional investors, business incubators and accelerators, specialised free zones, state-owned investment funds, and venture capital financiers.
Dubai, long ubiquitous with entrepreneurial achievements, now has numerous success stories that whet appetite and ambition. The Expo’s impetus on entrepreneurship has kindled greater global interest in the emirate, and the nation at large, as a gateway to growth markets.
More importantly, it serves as a nucleus for start-ups and scale-ups, with both innovators and investors paying keen interest. The Elevate series launched by the India Innovation Hub at the India Pavilion is a stellar example of how Expo 2020 Dubai made the entrepreneurial ecosystem open its doors — and its deep pockets — to the world.
Namrata Diwaker, Managing Director, Operations and Marketing at Rayush Natural Fibres, speaks for a majority of Elevate participants when she says, “It was such a unique experience to present our business to a cosmopolitan and international audience. Many were curious to know more about our innovative product, and how it can be introduced in their countries. This was a first for us – to think of a global approach.”
Interest often translates into investment. “Based on the response we received at the Expo, we are keen to start our services in the UAE,” says Diwaker. “We also received global inclinations for our mosquito and insect repellent curtains and will be finalising the most lucrative offers soon.”
Originally designed to showcase 500 Indian start-ups, Elevate was so successful that the organisers began inviting individuals and institutions from other countries for pitching sessions with potential investors.
The best of Expo 2020 Dubai’s entrepreneurial push was saved for the end. Held in its last week, The Annual Investment Meeting (AIM 2022) ran a series of pre-conference activities for sustainable investments, and youth entrepreneurship. Workshops organised by the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies covered quality investments, innovation in investments, and inclusive financing. “The UAE is widely recognised for being a global model for tech adoption,” said Walid Farghal, Director General of AIM Congress. “At AIM 2022, we want to go further and explore the potential of tech investments by bringing opportunities to the forefront.”
Almost at the same time, UAE government-led global investment platform, Investopia, and the world’s largest asset management company, BlackRock, co-hosted the inaugural Investopia Summit.
Abdulla Bin Touq, UAE Minister of Economy, later explained that the Summit supports the UAE’s ambitions, investment attractions, and its influential position in the global investment landscape. “In the post-pandemic phase, the world is witnessing new investment dynamics while also tackling investments’ social and environmental impact,” he said. “We believe in the necessity to develop a global platform to bring together government officials, investors, start-ups, small medium size enterprises, sector leaders, social entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders to lay down the foundations of building a responsible and sustainable future economy.”
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