Dubai-based incubator In5 is finally putting the finishing touches to its media-focused hub.
First announced in November 2015 they hope to usher in the “next big thing” following a slew of regional incubators going for an industry-specific approach. The new media hub is poised to open over the next three months.
It will have a similar offering to the existing In5 center in the Dubai Knowledge Village, including subsidized licensing and mentorship for startups, with an addition of tailored media facilities and resources.
In5’s new venture joins other regional industry players who are also shifting in favor of an industry-focused track. Flat6labs opened a media-focused accelerator in Abu Dhabi in 2014 and recently launched a fintech-centered 1864 Accelerator in Egypt, in cooperation with Barclays Bank.
Dubai-based online payment service provider Payfort launched a fintech-focused accelerator back in March.
The niche approach is not limited to industries alone either: Tharawat Family Business Forum launched its coworking hub aimed at family businesses in May, and Makeen Saudi Business Incubator supports female entrepreneurs.
“The advantage of these niche accelerators is that it offers entrepreneurs targeted mentorship, exposure to relevant clients and sometimes funding,” said Sonia Weymuller, founding partner at Venture Souq, a Dubai-based investment platform in later-stage startups. “This provides ventures with an early advantage.”
In5’s parent company, Tecom Group, invested 60 million dirhams (US$16 million) to open the media hub which will offer support, mentorship and office space to up to 200 media startups in Dubai Production City. Facilities will also include a coworking space, video studios and screening rooms.
“Today the amount of content that is being created does not correspond to the much higher volume of content being consumed,” said Majed Al Suwaidi, managing director of Dubai Media City and Dubai Production City, who is in charge of managing and overseeing Tecom’s investment. In turn, he said this was creating a huge gap and a lot of opportunities within the industry.
Al Suwaidi aims to open the application cycle and the new space within the next two to three months.
“The opportunities are available for individuals who want to make the next big thing happen,” Al Suwaidi told Wamda. “Hopefully, from all this support and development, we’ll see the next unicorn come from the region.”
In global digital media landscape where content publishers are struggling to meet revenue targets (BuzzFeed) and declaring bankruptcy (Gawker Media), such high hopes for digital media may seem overly optimistic.
Al Suwaidi acknowledges the challenges of monetization and the right business model many media companies face. He said that while they don’t expect to create business models that make 100 percent financial sense they are focused on the long term, “creating more companies will add value to the city and we create a chain reaction, bigger companies.”
And the growing media focus from incubators is welcome.
"I think this is healthy,” said Richard FitzGerald. He is the founder and managing editor of media site Lovin Dubai, which joined Google-backed tech hub and coworking space Astro Labs in 2015.
“Advancement of new media in the region, growing corporate brand appetite for new ad formats, popularity of native content as well as media-focused platforms and hubs - all of these developments are in our favor and help the media landscape as a whole."