Expo 2020 Dubai has announced that it will partner with Wamda, the leading platform for entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa, to launch a new Collaborative Entrepreneurship initiative. This scheme stems from a strong belief that such collaboration creates a wealth of opportunities for all.
Collaborative Entrepreneurship aims to bring together corporations and startups. Larger corporations, that tend to innovate in-house, could also benefit substantially from the flexibility of innovation-driven SMEs and startups. On the other hand, SMEs and startups can leverage big organizations’ resources to scale-up at a sustainable rate, a challenge they currently face.
Manal AlBayat, Vice President of Engagement at Expo 2020 Dubai, explained the motivation behind the initiative, saying: “We’re committed to using EXPO 2020 Dubai as a platform to bring meaningful partnerships that will help build a sustainable and long-lasting legacy beyond 2021. Our partnership with Wamda to launch a MENA-wide Collaborative Entrepreneurship initiative will serve to unlock the region’s entrepreneurship potential. By connecting leading corporates with Wamda’s strong grassroots network of regional entrepreneurs, we can build successful partnerships to spur economic growth and drive job creation, aligning with the UAE’s efforts and objectives”.
The first phase of this initiative is the publication of an insights report in January 2016 followed by a full Wamda Research Lab report that will include results of interviews with more than 120 business leaders and a survey conducted amongst over 800 startups in the Middle East region.
The report will give an in-depth look at the main trends and obstacles affecting collaborative entrepreneurship in the region, and set out recommendations for progress.
Speaking about the timing of this initiative, Habib Haddad, Founding CEO of Wamda said: "Although MENA's ecosystem has grown rapidly in the past 5 years, one of the most common obstacles to startups remains access to markets, the kind of access that large corporates have been able to build over years. However, those large corporates are good at replicating a predictable business model, not at coping with the rapid tech changes and innovating around it. This is how the idea of merging the startup and corporate world emerged.” Haddad added on the study's preliminary findings: “when looking deeper at the data, we found that both parties have a strong interest to work with each other but no proper mechanisms are in place. 90 percent of corporations said they see value in working with startups while the majority of startups said they were ready to make significant changes to their business to land a deal with a large corporation.”
The launch of this initiative will kick off with a collaboration workshop held in Dubai on January 19th, 2016, with representatives from a select group of MENA-based corporations and startups to explore the research outcomes, validate the suggested partnership models, and offer insights into how the business community can help implement the findings.
Following collaboration with the business community, the initiative will be officially launched at a summit in May 2016. Leading figures and decision makers from some of the region’s most influential corporations, along with members of the entrepreneurial community, will be invited to sign up to the tangible, technology and innovation focused outcomes of this initiative.
An online platform and accompanying toolkit will provide advice and guidance for newly created corporate startup partnerships, access to global best practices, and case studies while regularly monitoring the offering’s impact on job creation and the UAE economy.
The Collaborative Entrepreneurship initiative will also provide a powerful platform for stakeholders to align with the UAE’s strategy to nurture innovation and enhance competitiveness, and in the future, will extend beyond private sector corporations to include governmental entities and multilateral organizations.
This initiative builds on existing Expo 2020 Dubai effort to actively engage entrepreneurs and SMEs from across the region, including the on-going series of BusinessConnect workshops, the YouthConnect event, Expo Future Labs and Expo 2020 Challenges, as well as the inclusive and transparent procurement process around the planning and delivery of the Expo itself.