Focus: Tech hubs

SMART thinking

SMART thinking

Jul. 7, 2015

Through its emphasis on innovation and transforming into a smart city, Dubai has become a center for technological innovation through establishing tech centers to facilitate innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

Dubai has one of the world's highest penetration rates for internet access and mobile device usage, while the authorities have begun integrating smart government services to transform Dubai into a smart city. Crucial to the Emirate's innovation initiatives are developing locally-based entrepreneurs and attracting leading multinational tech companies to develop local technology. In recognition of this opportunity, key players have developed tech centers to entice innovation.

Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) has launched of its Dubai Technology Entrepreneurship Centre (DTEC), which upon completion, will be largest technology entrepreneur center in the region with 3,600sqm of space with 350 workstations. DTEC was conceptualized to provide existing and emerging high-tech entrepreneurs and start-ups with a highly motivating and positive work environment. There will be variable services available at DTEC with a “flexi desk" rental costing $1,600 a year, a “dedicated desk" for $3,000 a year, or an enclosed office starting at $800 per sqm. Importantly, DTEC follows under Dubai's free zone model, which enables establishing businesses, obtaining commercial licenses, and renting spaces without an Emirati partner or sponsor. So far, DTEC has signed up 60 registered companies with even more applying.

Locally based entrepreneurship platform AstroLabs has also recently announced that it has launched a new tech hub in partnership with Google in Dubai, the first of its kind in the MENA region. The AstroLabs Dubai facility will be situated in Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Free Zone, is scheduled to open in 2015, and will help tech entrepreneurs from across the globe access high growth markets. AstroLabs has already successfully built one of the largest networks of high-growth startups in the MENA region, having trained founders of 100 startups and those alumni having raised over $20 million in funding. The Dubai 6,500sqf facility will feature an advanced mobile device development lab, co-designed by Google for Entrepreneurs, to enable startups to build apps for the highest smartphone penetration markets globally. AstroLabs Dubai will also feature free zone benefits, which incentivize investment and ease the processes involved with establishing a business for budding entrepreneurs.

TECOM Investments unveiled, in November 2014, its strategy to support Dubai's transformation into a global innovation center, and the launch of the new Innovation Hub, which will provide 1.6 million sqf of dedicated space to around 15,000 knowledge and creative workers. DIC's Innovation Hub will focus on innovation across technology, new media, smart education, and sciences with Phase I being delivered in 1Q2017. It will offer companies of all sizes world-class facilities and services, robust and adaptable state-of-the-art infrastructure, and, most importantly, free zone classification.

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