In a year of sluggish growth for the region’s economy, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) -a 100% government-owned free zone- has reported strong results for 2015, an indication of the UAE’s turn toward technology to diversify its economy. According to a DSOA release, Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre (DTEC), the free zone’s entrepreneurship support outlet, has managed to attract 430 startups from 59 countries since its launch in March 2015. DTEC also reported the creation of 2,470 new jobs in its target sectors, since its start of operations. Further, in line with its commitment to encourage innovative businesses, the center has also facilitated investments of AED51 million (from DSOA and other investors) for the startups that are a part of DTEC.
Overall, aggregate investments in DSOA for 2015 have amounted to AED3.6 billion, with the revenues of the free zone said to have grown 16% over the previous year. The number of companies operating out of DSOA also increased from 1,391 in 2014 to 1,920 in 2015- a 38% growth. HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman, DSOA, attributed the results to growth in UAE’s technology sector, a factor he considers crucial for the country’s diversification efforts. As per official data, nearly 78% of the companies operating at DSOA are technology companies, and the remaining 22% belong to a range of other sectors including commerce and services.
Looking ahead, DSOA has forged strategic partnerships with various multinationals for promoting entrepreneurship in the region. In partnership with Intel, DSO plans to establish a facility in the Middle East to support the development of a Smart City Centre of Excellence within DTEC. DSOA has also signed a sponsorship agreement with SAP Training and Development Institute, under which space will be set aside to host up to three SAP innovation bootcamps. DTEC’s tech startups are also expected to benefit from free software and services made available through the Microsoft Biz-Spark Program, thanks to an agreement between DSOA and Microsoft Gulf. Commenting on DTEC’s upcoming projects to nurture entrepreneurship, Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Vice Chairman and CEO of DSOA, also cited plans to expand the space designated for entrepreneurs at DTEC by adding 1,000 sq. m. of office space to its “Techno Hub” building, which will bring the total space for startups to almost 4,600 sq. m.