Reflecting the MENA region’s fast-growing start-up ecosystem, in5, a member of TECOM Group PJSC, witnessed more than a 31% year-on-year (YoY) jump in new start-ups in 2022. More than 160 new start-ups joined in5 since 2022, bringing the grand total of start-ups supported by the incubator since its inception to over 750. The Dubai-based incubator, which enables businesses in tech, design and media, is showcasing its growing community at the upcoming Step Conference 2023, presented by Dubai Internet City, from 22-23 February.
Last year was a formidable year for the incubator. The number of female-led start-ups more than doubled, with over half operating in the tech sector. in5 companies will be showcasing innovations in artificial intelligence, health tech, retail SAAS platforms and more during Step Conference 2023, which is billed as the leading tech festival for emerging markets.
Speaking on behalf of in5, Majed Al Suwaidi, Senior Vice President of Dubai Media City – TECOM Group, said: “The days of lone-wolf entrepreneurship are gone. Dubai has created a dynamic community where founders can connect with like-minded individuals, participate in global business ecosystems, and contribute to economic growth and innovation. It’s what TECOM Group has strived for and succeeded in with in5. It has grown tremendously in the past year, both in the number of start-ups and the funding acquired. We’re delighted to return to Step Conference to spotlight our fast-growing community and facilitate partnership opportunities.”
A strong year for funding
In a trend that carries on from 2021, fintech start-ups dominated 2022 funding rounds at in5. Since its inception, start-ups at the incubator have raised more than AED2.4 billion in total by the end of 2022, with fintech accounting for more than half of the pot. The fintech sector in the UAE has experienced substantial growth, making it one of the fastest growing in the MENA region.
One of in5’s most notable alumni in the field is Tabby, a buy-now-pay-later app. The start-up continues to grow rapidly and has amassed more than 10,000 brands which include nine of the MENA region’s ten largest retail groups.
In 2022, MUNCH:ON, an in5 food operations services start-up was successfully acquired by Careem. Careem became the Middle East’s first unicorn (a start-up with a valuation of more than AED 3.7 billion) when US-based Uber bought it in 2019 for AED 11.4 billion. This is one of many mergers and acquisitions that have happened in the previous years within in5’s community and is another proof point to show how it provides the platform for start-ups and entrepreneurs to scale their businesses and be exposed to opportunities.
A diverse entrepreneurial community
The UAE’s status is growing as a global hub for entrepreneurship and investment. The country secured the top position worldwide in the 2022 Global Entrepreneurship Index, and strategies across manufacturing, creative industries, digital transformation and healthcare are stimulating economic growth. Underpinned by progressive business legislation, new visa categories and a high quality of life, Dubai continues to attract talent and professionals from around the world.
in5’s community reflects Dubai’s cosmopolitan business culture, home to more than 50 nationalities. It includes members from India, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China, Canada and more.
Visitors at Step Conference 2023 will have the chance to meet and engage with 20 in5 start-ups over the two-day event. Start-ups operate across a range of sectors, including innovative point-of-sale (POS) technology, accident assessment technology (which is deployed by Dubai Police), automated influencer marketing and more.
in5 is a start-up incubator part of TECOM Group’s portfolio, which also offers value added products and services including co-working spaces (D/Quarters), freelance packages (GoFreelance) and integrated smart services platform (axs). TECOM Group’s portfolio also comprises 10 business districts, including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Production City, Dubai Science Park, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai International Academic City, Dubai Design District (d3) and Dubai Industrial City.