25 out of 100 MENA startups make it to the final stage of the AIM Startup 2018 as race for excellence accelerates
Source: Pan Asian Media for AIM , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Thu December 21, 2017 11:46 am

UAE. A start-up revolution is about to begin in the Middle East, as 100 pre-selected start-up companies entered into a series of a region-wide pitch competition across Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, organised by AIM Startup, an initiative of the UAE Ministry of Economy, which will host its second annual exhibition, conference, workshop and competition from April 9-11, 2018 at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Around 25 start-ups were selected out of 100 participating start-ups across the region through a series of rigorous pitch competitions. The selected MENA start-ups will now have the opportunity to come to Dubai and participate at AIM Startup’s Grand Annual Event in April 2018 – all expenses paid!
Start-up companies are gradually changing the economic landscape of the Arab world that, according to the start-up research firm Magnitt, has attracted more than US$1 billion investment. Instead of seeking employment, most Arab young men and women are now becoming employers – that will help reduce unemployment as well as increase the economic output in the region.
However, this is perhaps the tip of the iceberg. The start-up revolution in the Arab World will accelerate with a threefold jump in mobile broadband subscriptions in the Middle East and Africa between 2016 and 2022, according to report by Ericsson AB. AIM Startup, the largest such platform in the MENA region for start-ups, is helping create a start-up eco-system that will bring investors, venture capitals and start-ups closer to help create employment and accelerate economic growth.
Business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan predicts that the GCC e-commerce market would be worth $41.5 billion in 2020, with 53 per cent of this market in the UAE Meanwhile, the MENA Private Equity Association estimated that the value of e-commerce in the wider MENA region would reach $200 billion by that same year.
As many as 60 start-ups from across Saudi Arabia, 20 from Jordan and 20 from Bahrain battled it out at separate pitch competitions hosted in Amman, Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, and Manama, adjudged by a panel of experts. In Amman, Little Thinking Minds, Arabot, Mind Rockets, Madfooat and Salasil – were the five start-ups selected by the panel.
In Jeddah, Kees Chic, Avokado, Sadeem, Sydality and Algorizm won the pitch while Fruits 360, Serviis, Ajeer, Fixtag and Nutrifit have been selected by judges in Riyadh.
The winning start-ups from the MENA Roadshow and Pitch Competitions will join another five top start-ups picked up through AIM Startup’s upcoming Pitch Competition in Kuwait – who will then enter into the final round of the competition to attract funding and vie for the coveted prizes of up to US$50,000.
Dawood Al Shezawi, CEO of AIM Startup, says, “This is the first such competition aimed at helping the region’s start-up community to flourish. The region-wide pitch competition gives the start-ups in the Middle East a chance to participate at the AIM Startup 2018 and make their cases for funding among mentors, trainers, business leaders, investors – and help them source funding.
“These developments make AIM Startup more exciting and relevant as we will see young women and men showcase new products, services and new processes that will reshape our lives and the way we work in our respective fields.”
With the theme – Technology for Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth – the second edition of AIM Startup has been aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
An initiative of the UAE Ministry of Economy, AIM Startup brings tech-entrepreneurs closer to investors, venture capital funds and mentors, to help new technology-driven solutions and companies start up and grow.
AIM Startup runs concurrently with the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) – the world’s leading platform for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in emerging markets, which is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The platform is aimed at facilitating strategic networking and promoting investment.
Start-ups in the region need funding and institutional support to expand and play their due role in changing the socio-economic landscape. A number of public funds, such as Dubai SME, Khalifa Fund, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Entrepreneurship Centre and venture capital funds are gradually coming up with start-up funds that will help the start-up sector to grow fast.
Christopher Beaudoin, CEO and Co- Founder, Startup Algorizm – one of the Top 5 Startup from AIM Startup Jeddah Pitch Competition, says, “Algorizm plans to help increase quick and accurate diagnoses of infectious diseases using novel DNA sequencing technologies and analyses that will improve health diagnosis – a very important aspect of healthcare treatment. Currently, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Entrepreneurship Center has provided support in the form of mentorship and funding, which will help us to develop and spread the business further.”
These start-ups, once funded properly, will change the socio-economic landscape of the Arab World.
Haifa Bedrawi, Project Manager of AIM Startup, says, “As we finalise the list of the top sustainable start-ups in the MENA region that are using technology to advance society, we see a massive surge in the number of start-ups coming up with game-changing applications that will reduce human efforts in getting things done. This reflects a change among the young population in the Arab World and how these start-ups will change the way we live, work, shop and enjoy the benefits of science and technology.”
“With more and more people now digitally connected in the region, most processes in business and work will become automated and paperless. The future is very exciting and AIM Startup will definitely reflect these exciting changes at its annual event next April.”
A number of entities have supported the AIM Startup MENA Roadshow and Pitch Competitions. In Jordan, Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship of Princess Sumaya University for Technology was the host partner while Oasis 500 was the Community Partner.
In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Monsha’at, Wadi Mekkah Qotuf and Startups House along with Mohammad Bin Salman College for Business and Entrepreneurship, and King Abdullah Economic City supported the Pitch Competitions across the kingdom. In Jeddah, Mohammad Bin Salman College (MBSC) Hosted the Pitch Competition while, in Riyadh, the pitch competition was hosted by King Saud University. In Dammam, the pitch was hosted by Prince Sultan Fund for Women Development while the Bahrain pitch was hosted by Riyadat ‑ Bahrain Business Incubator Centre and Start-up Bahrain supporting as Community Partner.

Photo Captions:
1. (above)  Saudi Startup based on Smart City Sector ‘Sadeem’ Pitching at Jeddah Pitch Competition in front of the expert jury members
2. (inset)  For illustrative purposes only (File photo)

About AIM Startup
AIM Startup was launched in 2017 as an initiative of the UAE Ministry of Economy to connect promising start-ups with investors and business partners from other parts of the world — set in the heart of the UAE’s Annual Investment Meeting, the world’s leading FDI platform for emerging markets and held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
AIM Startup is an ideal platform for start-up companies looking to raise capital, expand into new markets and forge meaningful business relationships with major investors, business leaders, representatives of international institutions and government entities. April 9-11, AIM Startup will host the second edition of its annual Innovation Showcase and Pitch Competition in Dubai, UAE, in conjunction with the Annual Investment Meeting, Future Cities Show and DIGAE.
This year, 200 promising start-ups will convene under one roof to meet with investors, corporates, government representatives and industry experts and will be given the opportunity to demo their ground-breaking solutions to a global audience of more than 19,000.



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