DIFC Innovation Hub and du join hands to foster SME innovation - GulfToday

DIFC Innovation Hub and du join hands to foster SME innovation

The DIFC programme will be a crucial initiative in creating awareness about climate change in the UAE.

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du, from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), on Monday announced a strategic partnership agreement with DIFC Innovation Hub to launch the ‘du Business Entrepreneurship Programme’, designed to provide substantial support to entrepreneurs and start-ups, focusing on cutting-edge programmes and initiatives that encourage innovation within the UAE’s business ecosystem.

Anchored within the DIFC Innovation Hub at ‘Innovation One’, the ‘Entrepreneurship Hub’ serves as a professional epicentre for SMEs and start-ups. A curated schedule of workshops, aligned with the aspirations of the entrepreneurial community, solidifies du’s strategic position in supporting the UAE’s progressive economic ambitions.

The programme aims to elevate SMEs by focusing on scalability and accessibility, teaching them to adapt their operations for growth with flexible telecom and workspace solutions. It seeks to enhance digital literacy among SMEs by providing practical training in communication, marketing and cybersecurity, thereby increasing productivity and fostering innovation. Additionally, SMEs will learn to integrate the latest technologies, such as AI, to enhance competitiveness and streamline operations. The programme also guides SMEs through the digital transformation process, covering strategic planning, technology adoption and organisational change management, to leverage technology for sustainable growth in today’s rapidly evolving business environment.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Authority and Fahad Al Hassawi, Chief Executive Officer, du; and signed by Mohammad Alblooshi, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Innovation Hub and Karim Benkirane, Chief Commercial Officer, du.

Fahad Al Hassawi, Chief Executive Officer at du, said, “In alignment with our strategic objectives, du is proud to cement a partnership with DIFC Innovation Hub, marking a shared commitment to fostering entrepreneurial environment in the Middle East. This initiative is a part of our mission to bolster the regional economy through the empowerment of SMEs and start-ups. The du Business Entrepreneurship Programme is primed to serve as a catalyst, offering a suite of resources, expert mentorship and dynamic networking conduits. We are poised to facilitate growth and development across the start-up ecosystem, contributing to the sustained economic diversification and innovation that characterises the UAE national vision.”

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Authority, commented, “SMEs and start-ups are the backbone of Dubai’s economy and the driving force behind innovation and job creation. DIFC is already home to over 1,000 FinTech and Innovation companies and an ever-evolving ecosystem driving the future of finance. The next generation of leaders taking part in the ‘du Business Entrepreneurship Programme’ will benefit from access to this growing community of world-leading talent as they come together to unleash their growth potential.”

The partnership will involve a robust framework of collaborative efforts to create synergies between the two organisations, leveraging du’s capabilities as a telecommunications leader and DIFC’s expertise as a global financial hub.

The announcement follows the recent official inauguration of the Dubai AI Campus by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of Dubai Executive Council and Chairman of the Higher Committee for Future Technology and Digital Economy, which also facilitates multinational technology partnerships in collaboration with the DIFC Innovation Hub and du. Participants in the ‘du Business Entrepreneurship Programme’, will benefit from access to the Dubai AI Campus’ nurturing ecosystem for AI businesses and leading talent driving the future of innovation in AI.

In line with the D33 agenda’s objective of developing the SME scale-up programme, the ‘du Business Entrepreneurship Programme’ will curate a series of highly specialised workshops to enable AI transformation within the SME and start-up sector in the UAE. The workshops will focus on themes around optimising customer acquisition using AI technologies, building and maintaining CRM systems, adopting emerging technologies, improving customer engagement, optimising back-office efficiency and much more. Going beyond promoting collaboration, the du Business Entrepreneurship Programme is driven by du’s commitment to facilitating entrepreneurial success.

As part of the collaboration, entrepreneurs will be welcomed into the DIFC Innovation Hub, within the newly launched Innovation One building, with innovative workspace solutions tailored to foster creativity and nurture the growth of new business ideas. The workspace, available to du customers for booking via the “Letswork” app, is poised to become a beacon of innovation and collaboration. The entrepreneurs joining the DIFC Innovation Hub as part of the programme will also benefit from highly customised du business solution bundles focused on providing the necessary support and resources to building and scaling tech-driven businesses.

Meanwhile, the UAE has strengthened its position as a leading global destination for promising investment opportunities and a key player in the global economy by capturing 45.4 percent of the total foreign direct investments (FDIs) flowing into the Arab states, amounting to AED248.3 billion in 2023.

This is evident from the record growth in FDI inflows to the UAE, which increased by 35 percent to reach Dhs112.6 billion in 2023, according to the World Investment Report 2024 by UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The UAE topped the list of countries in attracting FDIs, thanks to its enablers, flexible policies, and competitiveness that facilitate the establishment of diverse business activities and pioneering startup projects.

The country also boasts advanced investment legislation and incentives that boost FDI inflows. Amendments to the Commercial Companies Law, allowing foreign investors to establish and fully own companies, facilitated over 275,000 new companies within a year and a half, bringing the total to over 788,000 companies by the end of 2023.

The UAE continues to collaborate across various government and private sectors to achieve the goals of the ‘We the UAE 2031’ vision, aiming to double the GDP to Dhs3 trillion and increase UAE’s foreign trade to Dhs4 trillion.

Notably, the UAE ranked second globally after the United States in greenfield FDI project announcements in 2023, with 1,323 new projects registered, marking a growth rate of approximately 33 percent compared to the previous year.




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