MENA Startups, Take Note: MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition 2018 Is Now Open For Entries
For entrepreneurs looking for support, if you know where to look, opportunities are rife. Here to inject support to the culture of entrepreneurship in the region, the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) of the Pan Arab Region will be having its Innovation Forum at Bahrain in September. In partnership with the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and Investcorp, the forum will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Bahrain on September 27-28, 2018 with an estimated expected attendees of more than 500 people, consisting of startups, entrepreneurs, investors, and key policy makers. Aligned with the MITEF Pan Arab’s mission of fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, and Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030 of building towards its goal for a sustainable economy, the forum will focus on key issues around cybersecurity, AI, blockchain, fintech, and cloud computing. MITEF Pan Arab COO Catherina Ballout emphasized their decision to focus on technology was based on their observation of MENA's talent: "We know that the talent is abundant in the region and ready to innovate. Our goal here is to empower them the knowledge to do so."
Along with the forum, the search for submissions for the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition 2018 have begun. In partnership with Community Jameel, the annual startup competition, which received a 39% increase of applications from the region last year and is now in its 11th year, seeks to continue supporting startups by providing an avenue to exhibit and test ideas. Entrepreneurs can join three different tracks: the Ideas Track (for entrepreneurs with just an idea for a product or a service, although a team is not required); the Startups Track (for legally registered companies with a working prototype and traction), and the Social Entrepreneurship Track (for enterprises addressing social issues). Winners can have the chance to receive cash prizes of up to US$160,000, including training, mentorship, media exposure and networking opportunities.
MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region was founded in 2005, and is one of the 28 global chapters of the MIT Enterprise Forum Global. According to its website, the competition has supported more than 2,200 entrepreneurs with trainings and also established over 430 startups. Commenting on the significant opportunity and support that startups receive with the program, Hala Fadel, Chairperson of the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab says “Following the competition’s 10th anniversary last year, we are very excited to be embarking on another decade of innovation. The region graduates over 300,000 engineers every year, that’s three times as much as California. Talent in this region is here and ready to innovate and we are here to support these talented young men and women.”
The application submission deadline is on November 27, 2017, with semi-finalists to be announced on January 2018 and the final event announcing the winners on a later date.