A new initiative called ‘India-UAE start-up corridor,’ seeks to target a minimum of 50 validated start-ups based in India and the UAE with a mission to foster 10 of them into unicorns by 2025.

FICCI Lead, a technology and business incubator of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) have inked an agreement to launch the start-up corridor.

The objective of the initiative is to enhance and expand the start-up ecosystem between the UAE and India. It will further the vision of the leadership of both countries under the recently signed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), according to a statement from FICCI Lead.

The MoU between FICCI Lead and DIFC is subsequent to an agreement that was signed between FICCI LEAD, Indian Angel Network (IAN), Turbostart, India and MCA Management Consultants, UAE, on January 26 this year at Expo 2020 Dubai, wherein a venture capital fund of $150 million was announced.

“Around 10 technology-led innovative start-ups from various sectors, including financial services, education and logistics, have been shortlisted for the inauguration of the India-UAE Start-Up Corridor in Dubai. This initiative would create an ecosystem to embolden the engagement between start-ups, investors, incubators, corporations, and entrepreneurs to scale their business and strengthen their position in the global market,” said the statement.

The UAE aims to create 20 unicorns by 2031 and is already the leader in the MENA region in terms of tech transformation, digital acceleration and embracing innovative ideas.

“Since DIFC’s establishment in 2004, we have demonstrated our commitment to building and maintaining sustained, long-lasting partnerships with the Indian market. Indian banks, insurers, law firms and wealth managers have already chosen DIFC as their preferred global financial centre in the region and we are delighted to be working with FICCI Lead to build a corridor that will attract more Indian start-ups to set up here,” said Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority.

Dr Aman Puri, consul general of India, Dubai said the initiative would foster deeper collaboration between the start-up ecosystems of India and the UAE and bring in opportunities to further the momentum set by interactions during Expo 2020 Dubai. “We are excited for the coming years that will witness the emergence of new soonicorns and unicorns in both countries and contribute to finding innovative solutions to global challenges.”

Ajai Chowdhry, chairman of FICCI Start-Up Corridor and FICCI Lead, said the landmark MOU is the beginning of an important partnership on enhancing opportunities in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems between India and the UAE.

“FICCI remains committed to progressively scaling this India-UAE Start-Up Corridor in collaboration with our partner, DIFC, and help convert at least 10 start-ups into unicorns.”

“The India-UAE Start-up Corridor has the potential to be a game-changer. It will bring large pools of funding as well as provide access to markets for start-ups from both countries. It is a perfect opportunity for investors to engage through this corridor and help breed the next generation of valuable companies,” said Ganesh Raju, co-chairman of FICCI Start-Up Committee & FICCI Lead.

India had launched Start-Up India, envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in January 2016 to give impetus to the indigenous ecosystem and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. India now boasts of the world’s third-largest ecosystem for start-ups. Additionally, over the past five years, India has leapfrogged in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking to 63rd position among 190 nations, from 142nd position in 2014. In 2020, India also joined the group of Top 50 countries in the Global Innovation Index (GII) of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Since 2007, FICCI has been an active player in the ecosystem and has supported 1000 plus start-ups/innovators with more than Rs1.25 billion. The start-up enterprises supported by FICCI have been able to generate 140,000 plus jobs and leverage more than five times capital from external market sources. More than 100 companies have been provided access to the global markets across the US, South Asia and Africa.

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