Dar Ventures, the venture capital arm of design and engineering consultancy firm Dar Al-Handasah, has launched the "DARE" incubator programme for startups in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries across the Middle East and Africa.
Selected startups will be offered equity-free funding of up to $50,000 and an opportunity to get mentored by industry experts while also benefiting from Dar Al-Handasah's network of partner universities.
"We are in the AEC business, so we are looking to harness entrepreneurial talent in that space through our in-house incubator, which is the first of its kind in the Mena region and is in line with our core business," said Nader Aboushadi, Dar Ventures director and group treasurer at Dar group.
"What’s critical about the AEC is the fact that the space is not specific to design, but it touches upon a wide spectrum of industries. When we're asked to design, we design airports, buildings, and even cities," he explained.
The six-month programme is operated by Acasia Group, formerly Cairo Angels.
"The AEC industry is valued at $12 trillion. That said, it accounts for a fraction of global venture activity, representing less than five per cent, if not far less. That leaves DAR ventures with a very vast opportunity to spur innovation in the AEC sector by setting up an ad-hoc marketplace to empower early-stage startups," said Ranya Saadawi, CEO of Acasia Group.
Last year, Dar Al-Handasah, in partnership with SIAC and Flat6Labs, launched Makers, a contech accelerator programme geared towards Egyptian startups.
Dar Ventures is eyeing expansion to Saudi Arabia as well.