ADIO accelerates opportunities in Abu Dhabi for startups through partnerships with Microsoft and Plug and Play

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ADIO accelerates opportunities in Abu Dhabi for startups through partnerships with Microsoft and Plug and Play

12 Jan 2021

Two world-class startup enablers are rolling out a series of dynamic programmes in Abu Dhabi to accelerate opportunities for early-stage companies in 2021 and beyond. The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) is partnering individually with Microsoft and Plug and Play on a range of initiatives to provide founders and entrepreneurs with tools and resources to successfully scale their businesses and realise ideas that drive positive impact.  

Abu Dhabi has built an enabling, talent-rich business environment to help innovative startups succeed in the emirate, ranking 12th globally in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Subnational Report 2020. To continue advancing Abu Dhabi’s innovation ecosystem, ADIO will, through its partnerships with Microsoft and Plug and Play, provide strategic funding for key projects that support early-stage, growth-driven companies.

H.E. Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO, said: “Abu Dhabi has fostered an environment where startups can access the means and opportunities to help them bring bold ideas to life. We are committed to deepening our support for investors and innovators in 2021 and have partnered with leading startup enablers and accelerators from around the world to provide the community with greater access to financing, networks and mentorship. As the global economy looks to the future, Abu Dhabi’s ecosystem is well-positioned as the region’s foremost investment destination for big thinkers to realise their ambitions.”

ADIO has partnered with Microsoft to launch a series of initiatives under the “Microsoft for Startups” Programme, which provides technology, Azure cloud services, business support tools and programmes to develop skillsets, aimed at accelerating growth opportunities for startups. Under the agreement, Microsoft will manage several programmes over a five-year period to support the regional technology startup ecosystem. 

The first two programmes are “Microsoft Growth X Accelerator”, a virtual accelerator programme with a focus on recruiting local and regional startups, and “Highway to 100 Unicorns”, an engagement initiative that runs startup-focused activities through regional ecosystem partners to recruit high-potential startups for the Accelerator as well as future programmes in the pipeline by Microsoft and ADIO. Further initiatives focused on entrepreneurship for Emiratis and UAE residents, as well as university students, are in the works and will be launched in the coming months.

Sayed Hashish, General Manager of Microsoft UAE, said: “Startups play a vital role in driving the next wave of innovation and accelerating economic growth. Abu Dhabi has become a promising launchpad for startups to bring their ideas to life and scale globally. Our strategic partnership with ADIO speaks to Microsoft's commitment as a global technology partner to enable budding entrepreneurs to develop, scale, and build transformational businesses with innovative technology, empowering them to achieve more.”

Plug and Play, an innovation platform that brings together top startups and the world’s largest corporations and government entities, currently runs accelerator programmes in the Middle East from the emirate’s international financial centre, Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). Since 2017, the partnership between Plug and Play and ADGM has been a leading force in driving innovation in the region by uniting startups with expertise from international startups and major corporations. 

ADIO is building on this success to take the platform to the next level by partnering with Plug and Play to support two of its existing accelerator programmes, focusing on FinTech and HealthTech, as well as launching an additional accelerator programme for a third sector that will be operational within the first half of 2021. As part of the agreement, ADIO will provide funding for the accelerators and will work closely with Plug and Play to establish Abu Dhabi as an innovation hub across key sectors in the region.

Saeed Amidi, CEO and Founder of Plug and Play, said: “"Plug and Play is proud to partner with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office to continue supporting exceptional tech startups and talent to grow across the UAE and GCC. Over the past 3 years and going forward, our focus will be to continue creating real business opportunities for innovative local, regional and international startups that can have a lasting impact on critical sectors through corporate and government collaborations. Through ADIO's support and our growing network of partnerships with the most future-forward major private and public sector entities, we are confident to attain our GCC vision of a unified, seamless and sustainable marketplace for the best B2B startup solutions to start and scale." 

In addition to the partnerships with Microsoft and Plug and Play, ADIO is working alongside partners including ADGM, Hub71, ADQ and Mubadala to continue growing the emirate’s innovation ecosystem. ADIO’s role includes connecting investors and companies to relevant opportunities across Abu Dhabi’s ecosystem, bringing together the right partnerships to help them grow and expand in the emirate and setting them up for long-term, sustainable success in the region.