The innovation mandate has expanded for Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial centre and FinTech hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region.
DIFC will set new standards for financial innovation in the region, building on its successful industry reputation for providing the region’s most enabling business environment, proven world-class laws and regulations and attracting the best financial talent.
This comes at a time when the most successful organisations are expediting their innovation agendas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DIFC’s approach enables individuals, businesses, regulators and the DIFC Authority to inclusively define the future of the industry, using a model that will be held up as global best practice. Collectively, over 250 firms are able to work together to develop and introduce innovative solutions and business models that will redefine the future of finance with the aim of providing sustained economic growth. The environment allows businesses to develop new ideas safely and thrive at each stage of their business lifecycle.
DIFC Innovation Hub provides access to best in class learning under-graduates, post-graduates and executives through the DIFC Academy, the region’s most successful executive learning environment. The DIFC Academy’s four schools, including the new School about future will be able to graduate up to 25,000 students a year. They will bring new skills and knowledge to the finance industry globally, regionally and locally.
Although over fifty per cent of FinTech start-ups in the GCC are already based in DIFC, formalising the end-to-end DIFC Innovation Hub proposition, is expected to attract more high-impact entrepreneurs and growth companies to join the community along the sought-after accelerator and incubator programmes.
FinTech’s looking to get financially regulated can make use of the Innovation Testing License (ITL) programme, a regulatory sandbox with a clear path to a full license, DIFC’s broader Innovation License, a subsidised commercial license for non-regulated innovation companies.
DIFC FinTech Hive start-ups and those operating on theses licenses benefit from operating in the DIFC Innovation Hub because it provides access to networking and close proximity to industry experts, mentor and partner organisations.
Having access to the most active investor network is a key consideration for start-ups, which is why DIFC has built this into the overall DIFC Innovation Hub proposition. In addition to being considered by the DIFC FinTech Fund, Venture Capital Firms from DIFC’s and the region’s broader ecosystem are using the DIFC Innovation Hub to identify businesses for future investment. So far in 2020, the UAE accounts for over 60 per cent of funds raised in the Middle East and North Africa for Venture Capital investment, validating the potential for DIFC based start-ups to access funding. DIFC has also enhanced its offering for Venture Capital firms which includes subsidised licensing and the launch of the leading VC framework that enables VC fund managers and funds to setup in weeks, with high flexibility and streamlined regulatory requirements.
Having developed new ideas locally, businesses will be able to leverage DIFC’s extensive partner network and FinTech bridges to expand into regional and international markets.
Notable DIFC clients who are focused on innovation are already benefitting from being part of the DIFC Innovation Hub. Innovative clients who are part of the DIFC Innovation Hub include Adyen, Algante Technologies, Beehive, Cashew Payments, DigiSpark, Ebury, EdAid, Future Learning Lab, GlobaTech, Get Stake, Lean Tech, Post Pay, Startupbootcamp, Seez, Toboot Sales Force Experience Centre, Tabby, Xpense and ZG.com.
Commenting on the announcement, Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority said: “Our future is rooted in digital transformation, technology and innovation. During the last 16 years, DIFC has attracted some of the world’s leading innovators and change makers within the financial sector. Emerging and anticipated requirements of individuals and companies requires the industry to do things differently. The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated these needs. Therefore, DIFC is pleased to be amongst Dubai’s leading entities to embed innovation in everything we do. The DIFC Innovation Hub is positioning DIFC as the leading next generation financial hub, whilst providing security and stability.
“As we approach the 50th anniversary of the UAE and look to the future, DIFC Innovation Hub will become a focal point for incubating and accelerating the country’s economic growth. We will transform the financial sector and deliver positive impact and sustained growth.”
The DIFC Innovation Hub elevates the Centre’s contribution to the UAE Innovation Strategy and Dubai Plan 2021. It is also an important pillar of the new Dubai Future District announced in January 2020 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The DIFC Innovation Hub is located in Gate Avenue at DIFC which has become popular with start-ups, tech companies as well as a vibrant portfolio of restaurants, retailers and homegrown brands. It comprises of the largest innovation ecosystem in the region and acts as a nucleus for early stage start-ups, growth stage start-ups, unicorns and big Tech firms to accelerate success.