Dubai - UAE-based Crescent Enterprises has launched a venture capital arm with plans to invest $150 million (Dh551 million) over the next three years.

Crescent Enterprises CEO Badr Jafar announced the new arm at the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival held at the Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club on Tuesday.

Jafar said the fund would focus on strategic direct investments in early-to-later stage start-ups worldwide. The firm said in a press statement that half the fund would be allocated to firms in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

Jafar said Crescent had already been “quietly active” in venture capital, adding, “In the last six months alone, we have invested in a wide range of start-ups from a Silicon Valley-based drone company for the industrial sector and robotic surgery technologies, to an e-commerce platform for fisheries in India. We also seeded entrepreneur graduates from the American University of Sharjah who are developing an artificial intelligence project management system.”

Within the Middle East, Jafar said, “we are approaching a juncture where the private sector needs to drive the next wave of innovation and growth, whilst at the same time addressing our region’s most acute social, economic and environmental challenges. It is clear to us that alongside our existing businesses, corporate venture capital is a powerful way to achieve this, and therefore it is the right time to formalise this rapidly growing side of our business.”

Jafar said the fund tied in to Crescent’s long-term strategy to generate a positive impact across its markets and to prepare for tomorrow’s business environment, while helping change the region from brand-adopters to brand-creators.

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