While virtual meetings and cloud-based working practices are now a permanent part of every day life, in the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi, a new tech startup ecosystem is developing that will benefit French startups – and, out of necessity, it’s been built to work for founders even when they’re not present in person.
British-Bahraini entrepreneur Abdulla Almoayed describes the ease in which he has moved his fintech startup’s HQ from Manama to Abu Dhabi’s tech ecosystem, Hub71, “We drafted the articles of association. We got everything structured, got everything signed and the company set up over there during Covid and I didn’t have to fly over even once – they did everything virtually – that’s how switched on and proactive these guys are.”
Plenty of companies are looking to expand into new regions and markets as they seek out new opportunities, and that includes many more firms looking to move to the MENA region. For businesses currently based in France, this move just got a lot easier. French startups looking to move to Abu Dhabi, and startups within Hub71 with an eye on the French market, will both benefit from a new partnership forged this month between French investment bank, Bpifrance, and Hub71.
French startups and resource sharing
“Pooling our resources together with Hub71 creates an attractive value proposition that will help Abu Dhabi-based startups and entrepreneurs thrive in France,” says Nicolas Dufourcq, CEO at Bpifrance.
He continues: “We see incredible potential in bridging the France and Abu Dhabi tech ecosystems to foster investor relationships and potential partnerships for French entrepreneurs who can benefit from our collaborative community through Hub71’s Incentive Program.”
Hanan Harhara Al Yafei, CEO at Hub71, said: “Cementing our strategic partnership with such an esteemed institution like Bpifrance casts the net wider for Hub71 startups to successfully enter the French market.
“Bpifrance shares our long-term commitment of promoting entrepreneurship, ensuring French startups can arrive in Abu Dhabi’s Hub71 and use our dynamic ecosystem as a springboard to a prosperous Middle East and North Africa region.
The program “builds on a 10-year bilateral roadmap between the UAE and France”, and supports and strengthens a previous agreement signed between Bpifrance and the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala Investment Company. The agreement sees Hub71 and Bpifrance exploring co-investment opportunities in Hub71 and French startups.
To kick-off the partnership, Bpifrance and Hub71 hosted a webinar during this year’s 6th edition of Bpifrance’s Inno Generation, with Miriam Kiwan, head of partnerships at international financial centre Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM); Frederic Lardieg, director, Mubadala Ventures Europe; and Jida Itani, head of marketing and communications at Hub71.
Regarding the opportunities in the UAE for French tech startups, Kiwan said: “For foreign startups that are really looking to expand and take that next big step, Abu Dhabi provides a strategic location to grow.
“I think Abu Dhabi and Paris are well positioned to do business together, as startups can find a home here where they can network, but also test and try out new products and services in a safe, robust regulatory framework.”
Itani added: “Hub71 leverages Mubadala’s global reach, its robust network and expertise in investing; bringing all that knowledge to the table. We match global investors to create meaningful impact for startups. Right now, we have six venture capital firms at Hub71 that are actively investing in startups and Hub71 is the perfect community for their pipelines.”
Echoing both comments, Lardieg said, “People have realised recently that they have to be closer to innovation. You know, there are some sectors that genuinely need some deep technical expertise – smart robotics or autonomous vehicles, for example – where you need to have people in the industry to invest and give their knowledge and time, alongside the traditional VC or wealth fund type investors.”
And that is exactly what Hub71 does: brings together tech entrepreneurs from all over the world and allows them to rub shoulders with tech giants, industry innovators and VCs alike.
For more information about Hub71 and the Hub71 Incentive Program, head to www.hub71.com/#hip