Data from local angel investors:

  • The UAE is among the most important markets for locally-based investors, with 55 percent of them prioritizing the UAE over other global markets.
  • FinTech remains the leading industry for early-stage investors, accounting for 29 percent of angel investments.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is emerging as a key field of interest for angel investors in the UAE, with 18 percent of investors watching it closely.

Abu Dhabi: The UAE is among the most important markets for locally-based investors, with 55 percent of them prioritizing the UAE over other global markets - a key trend that emerged from angel investors at the fifth iteration of the Angel Rising Investor Education Symposium.

Organized by startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi and powered by Tamkeen, the Symposium was held yesterday, March 23, under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Economy, and in partnership with VentureSouq.  

Under the theme Looking East: The New Digital Silk Road & The Future of the Global Technology Order, Angel Rising shed light on the UAE’s role in shaping the future of the global economy with the emergence of new technologies and markets in China, India, and Africa. The Symposium welcomed a number of leading experts including CEO of China SilkRoad Investment & Development Winston Ma Wenyan; and President and CEO of Ken Miller Capital in New York Ken Miller, among others.

Other trends from angel investors at the Symposium highlighted that 25 percent look to invest in businesses based in Europe, followed by the MENA region at 23 percent, North America at 22 percent, Asia at 22 percent, and the remaining look at Africa and South America.

NYU Abu Dhabi Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Associate Dean of Engineering, and startAD Managing Director Ramesh Jagannathan said: “In any entrepreneurial ecosystem, angels play an important role by stepping in when the startups’ valuations are murky at best. Their role becomes ‘mission critical’, as the digital economies of the second Machine Age powered by AI and Deep Learning, begin their determined march along the 21st Century Silk Road. The three billion plus global middleclass consumers lining up along the Silk Road come from all walks of life, from diverse cultures, with significantly less buying power than their western counterparts.  There will be over 300 million people above 65 years of age in China alone with special needs in terms of healthcare, home care, transportation, and security.  The needs of almost half of the global population along the Silk Road are ‘now and urgent’. They will strongly shape the scope of the second Machine Age, paving the Silk Road with myriad entrepreneurial ventures, produced and sustained by local angels, serving local customers. startAD is committed to supporting the UAE to be a leader in the region.”

Partner at VentureSouq Tammer Qaddumi commented: “The exploration of this particular subject was born out of an urgent need for us as investors in early stage technology companies. We’re starting to feel the effects of the New Silk Road in everything we do: deal flow, investor interest, supply and demand dynamics for portfolio companies, and exit opportunities. It’s critically important that we educate ourselves in this topic. For us to succeed, we have to be comfortable and motivated to back startups that will shape how the world moves forward. And education is without a doubt the most essential catalyst of that happening.”

Research on the UAE’s startup sector, collected for this year’s Angel Rising, indicates that 18 percent of angel investors are focused on startups working in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). FinTech remains the leading industry for early-stage investors, accounting for 29 percent of angel investments. Additionally, cleantech, logistics, aviation construction, Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics technologies continue to attract angel investors.

Angel Rising 2019 was supported by Etihad Airways, Latham & Watkins, Khalifa Fund, Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), and UAE Exchange. For more information about the Symposium, please follow this link.


About startAD

startAD is an Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator steering seed-stage technology startups to launch, develop, and scale their ventures. Anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi and powered by its partner Tamkeen, the accelerator equips startups to pilot solutions with industry leaders, while enabling corporates to innovate with startups disrupting their core businesses.

startAD has the unique domain expertise and state-of-the-art facilities to develop startups with a focus on hardware and AI, as well as other solutions in priority industries including aviation, energy, sustainability, construction, and security. Enrolled startups benefit from startAD’s extensive range of programs and global network of investors, mentors, and experts, in addition to access to startAD’s seed fund for local startups. Since startAD’s launch in 2016, participating startups have raised $8 million in investment, secured numerous pilot projects, and have been recognized with global design and product awards. 

About Tamkeen

Tamkeen is a company that delivers projects to meet Abu Dhabi’s vision of knowledge-based development. This is achieved by collaborating with a variety of local and international institutions to enrich Abu Dhabi’s social, cultural and educational landscape in line with its Economic Vision 2030.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly-selective liberal arts, engineering and science curriculum with a world center for advanced research and scholarship enabling its students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from 120 nations and speak over 120 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.

About VentureSouq

VentureSouq (“VSQ”) is an investment platform focused on global early-stage technology companies. Based in Dubai, VSQ provides access, education & services to MENA-based individual & institutional investors. To date, VSQ has made 65 investments into fast-growth companies across MENA, North America, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe & Asia. For more information please visit: 

© Press Release 2019

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