The innovation mandate has expanded for the Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC, the leading global financial centre and FinTech hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region.
The DIFC will set new standards for financial innovation in the region, building on its successful industry reputation for providing the region’s most enabling business environment, proven world-class laws and regulations and attracting the best financial talent.
Collectively, over 250 firms can work together to develop and introduce innovative solutions and business models that will redefine the future of finance to provide sustained economic growth.
The DIFC Innovation Hub provides access to best-in-class learning under-graduates, post-graduates and executives through the DIFC Academy, the region’s most successful executive learning environment. The DIFC Academy’s four schools, including the new school about the future, will be able to graduate up to 25,000 students a year.
Although more than fifty per cent of FinTech start-ups in the GCC are already based in DIFC, formalising the end-to-end DIFC Innovation Hub proposition is expected to attract more high-impact entrepreneurs and growth companies to join the community along with the sought-after accelerator and incubator programmes.
FinTechs looking to get financially regulated can make use of the Innovation Testing Licence programme, a regulatory sandbox with a clear path to a full licence, DIFC’s broader Innovation Licence, a subsidised commercial license for non-regulated innovation companies.
The DIFC FinTech Hive start-ups and those operating on these licences benefit from operating in the DIFC Innovation Hub because it provides access to networking and the close proximity to industry experts, mentor and partner organisations.
Having access to the most active investor network is a key consideration for start-ups, which is why DIFC has built this into the overall DIFC Innovation Hub proposition. In addition to being considered by the DIFC FinTech Fund, Venture Capital Firms from DIFC’s and the region’s broader ecosystem are using the DIFC Innovation Hub to identify businesses for future investment. So far in 2020, the UAE accounts for over 60 per cent of funds raised in the Middle East and North Africa for Venture Capital investment. DIFC has also enhanced its offering for Venture Capital firms which includes subsidised licencing and the launch of the leading VC framework that enables VC fund managers and funds to set up in weeks.
Innovative clients who are part of the DIFC Innovation Hub include Adyen, Algante Technologies, Beehive, Cashew Payments, DigiSpark, Ebury, EdAid, Future Learning Lab, GlobaTech, Get Stake, Lean Tech, Post Pay, Startupbootcamp, Seez, Toboot Sales Force Experience Centre, Tabby, Xpense and ZG.com.
Commenting on the announcement, Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority said, "Our future is rooted in digital transformation, technology and innovation. During the last 16 years, DIFC has attracted some of the world’s leading innovators and change-makers within the financial sector. Emerging and anticipated requirements of individuals and companies require the industry to do things differently. The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated these needs."
The DIFC Innovation Hub elevates the Centre’s contribution to the UAE Innovation Strategy and Dubai Plan 2021. It is also an important pillar of the new Dubai Future District announced in January 2020 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The DIFC Innovation Hub is located in Gate Avenue at DIFC which has become popular with start-ups, tech companies as well as a vibrant portfolio of restaurants, retailers and homegrown brands