DUBAI, UAE — The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has announced the winners of 5th Dubai Smartpreneur Competition during a virtual event, which saw 10 shortlisted startups from the UAE and abroad pitch their businesses to an expert panel of judges.
ProvenMed, a UAE-based medical devices innovation start-up, was name as the first place winner, Callix, a UAE-based startup offering intelligent cloud-based call answering solutions, took second place, while PlasticFri, a social enterprise from Sweden with a mission to tackle plastic pollution by transforming renewable plant resources, claimed third place.
During his keynote speech, Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, minister of state for entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “SMEs are the backbone of contemporary economies. Thanks to the directives of its wise leadership, the UAE is considered one of the leading countries in the region in the development of a legislative and institutional framework that supports entrepreneurship and SME incubators, believing in the importance of the sector as a major engine that drives diversification, innovation and competitiveness in terms of economic performance.”
The minister further noted that the UAE ranked fifth in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) in 2019, with the sector contributing 53% to the country’s GDP in 2018. He commended the role of the distinguished initiative in promoting a culture of innovation among entrepreneurs in the country and enhancing their participation in shaping the foundations of the future economy.
Dr. Al Falasi further underscored the Ministry of Economy’s keenness to support all initiatives that complement its efforts to develop the UAE’s entrepreneurship culture, especially in fields related to technology, knowledge, research and development.
“The Ministry continues its efforts to launch programs and initiatives to support the SMEs sector; empower entrepreneurs; and provide them with necessary training and support in a way that enhances their contribution to advancing the UAE’s economic growth, increasing its resilience and sustainability,” Dr. Al Falasi added.
Hisham Al Shirawi, 2nd vice chairman of Dubai Chamber, presented the winners with their prizes in the presence of government officials, business leaders, investors and representatives from Dubai’s entrepreneurial community.
Al Shirawi noted that the fifth cycle of the Dubai Smartpreneur competition saw a 23% increase in applications compared to previous cycle, while 82% of business ideas were submitted by startups based in the UAE, which he said reflected the country’s strengthening reputation as a preferred hub for innovation-focused startups.
“The fifth cycle of the competition exceeded our expectations and achieved its objectives of attracting high-potential startups and harnessing the potential of aspiring entrepreneurs who are bringing innovative ideas to the market.
“The prestigious competition is a key pillar of Dubai Chamber’s comprehensive entrepreneurship strategy, which aims to provide entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools they need to thrive and grow,” said Al Shirawi.
Prior to the awards ceremony, the top 10 participating startups — ProvenMed Global FZ-LLC, VYND, PlasticFri, Callix, uqudo, Caddie Engineering LLC, Lexyom, beXel, Cerebian and ONE MOTO — made their business pitches in the final round of the competition. The shortlisted startups will get the opportunity to exhibit at Expo 2020 Dubai, while the top 3 winning startups received AED150,000 in combined cash prizes.
Over 1,900 startups from around the world have applied over the last five cycles of the Dubai Smartprenuer Competition. The fifth cycle, held earlier this year, attracted 315 smart business ideas aligned with the Expo 2020 Dubai sub-themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.
Open to all entrepreneurs in the UAE and abroad, the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition gives the opportunity to become part of Dubai government’s strategy to elevate the city into a global platform for innovative startups. The initiative also falls in line with the vision of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, to transform the emirate into one of the world’s smartest cities.
Launched as an initiative of Dubai Chamber in 2016, Dubai Startup Hub is an interactive platform that connects startups, entrepreneurs, developers, venture capitalists and students, enabling them to learn about new opportunities and create new partnerships that stimulate economic growth. — SG