District 2020 partners with Dubai SME and MBRIF to support start-ups

District 2020, the future of Dubai Expo, has partnered with Dubai SME and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) to support its global entrepreneur programme, Scale2Dubai.

Both organisations will provide District 2020 with a pipeline of high-potential start-ups and small businesses by helping eligible companies to apply to the Scale2Dubai programme, and support them with mentorship and funding.

“These milestone agreements with Dubai SME and MBRIF will further bolster the continued growth of the UAE’s start-up ecosystem and contribute to a stronger and resurgent economic environment,” said Marjan Faraidooni, chief pavilions and exhibitions officer of Expo 2020 Dubai.

Expo 2020 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will now run from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

District 2020, a mixed-use development, will be ready for occupancy by October 2022 following a six- to nine-month period of repurposing and transition from Expo 2020.

Successful applicants to the Scale2Dubai programme can expect benefits such as two years’ free working space, support in visa and business set-up, two years’ subsidised urban living and access to funding.

The programme builds on Expo 2020 Dubai’s aim to support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and start-ups, a vital sector of the UAE’s economy.

As of the end of March 2020, Expo 2020 had awarded more than Dh4.6 billion to SMEs. SMEs account for nearly 50 per cent of all businesses registered with Expo 2020, and 56 per cent of all Expo contracts have been awarded to the sector.

The mission of Dubai SME, which was founded in 2002, is to support the sector and promote the innovation ecosystem in the UAE.

“As we are an institution dedicated to supporting the establishment and development of innovative start-ups, our vision closely aligns with that of District 2020,” said Abdul Baset Al-Janahi, chief executive of Dubai SME.

Mr Al-Janahi said Dubai SME will work on qualifying innovative national projects from members of its Hamdan Innovation Incubator and different countries participating in its Innovation Attraction Programme.

MBRIF, a federal initiative launched by the Ministry of Finance in 2015, was also designed to support innovation in the UAE.

“We recognise just how influential start-ups and small businesses are in sparking innovation … Fledgling businesses with an eagerness to scale up are also a key source of job creation,” said Fatima Yousif Al Naqbi, chief innovation officer at the Ministry of Finance. “That’s why we’re determined to provide financing solutions supporting local and international start-ups and small businesses looking to grow in a challenging and competitive environment.”

Scale2Dubai is currently accepting expressions of interest in the programme through the District 2020 website: The application and shortlist process will follow in 2021, with successful applicants announced during Expo 2020 Dubai.

Updated: June 26, 2020 06:23 PM



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