UAE

Sharjah

MEMBERS:
Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center

In just five years, Sheraa has led Sharjah’s development of a founder-focused ecosystem anchored in the belief that anyone is capable of bringing impactful change to their community and the world.

Najla Al Midfa
Chief Executive Officer, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa)
Top 10 MENA Ecosystem: Bang for Buck
Top 10 MENA Ecoystem: Performance
Top 10 MENA Ecoystem: Talent & Experience

Highlights

With one of the most attractive investment climates and fastest-growing economies in MENA, Sharjah has attracted the attention of global investors and founders. Its strategic location in proximity to promising emerging markets, favorable business environment, and commitment to supporting startups has created a thriving innovation ecosystem. The emirate is home to several top-ranked higher education institutions and MENA’s fastest growing technopark, Sharjah Research Innovation and Technology Park (SRTI Park). The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) launched in 2016 with a mandate to build a world-class entrepreneurship ecosystem in Sharjah. It’s annual flagship event, the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, nurtures a culture of innovation and cooperation in the ecosystem and has become one of the region's largest entrepreneurship events. Sheraa recently launched the Sharjah Startup Studio (S3), the first government-backed startup studio in the UAE. S3 supports social impact entrepreneurs and operates under a revenue-sharing model, in which entrepreneurs receive $30,000 in pre-seed funding but retain full ownership of their businesses. Investors’ confidence in Sharjah continues to grow, with $220 million worth of projects initiating in 2020, a 60% increase between Q3 and Q4. This increase can be attributed to the ecosystem of support entities that help foreign investors access the emirate, such as the Sharjah Investors Services Center (SAEED), an initiative of Sharjah FDI (Invest in Sharjah). The Sharjah Government has also committed around $500 million in R&D investment to solidify the emirates’ potential as an innovation leader. This investment led to the launch of SRTI Park. which offers a full-service support system, Open Innovation Lab, and makerspace.

Ecosystem by the numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
<$50 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$431 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
<$100 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$10.5 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND
$540 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$494 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND
$1.9 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$2.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY
$50.3 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$42.1 k

Sub-sector Strengths

Edtech

US$20 million was invested in the Middle East’s Edtech sector in 2019. In 2020 the UAE allocated $2.8 billion to public higher education — roughly 15% of the total budget. Edtech is poised to grow, backed by the University City of Sharjah, one of the largest in the region. Sharjah is a pioneer in higher education, with 21 institutions of higher learning, multidisciplinary centers of excellence, and 30,000+ students with a digital mindset and an appetite for quality Edtech solutions.

Digital & Creative Industries

Sharjah's legacy as a global cultural crossroad has built a thriving ecosystem that champions pioneering startups in publishing, digital content, and media. In 2019, Sharjah was crowned UNESCO World Book Capital, and it has two dedicated free zones - Sharjah Media City and Sharjah Publishing City – which provide startup support programs that enable entrepreneurial growth in digital media and other sub-sectors, and attracted 100 companies from 23 countries in 2020.

Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics

With a strong manufacturing sector, Sharjah was ranked the 8th fastest-growing city in the world from 2015 to 2020 by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It recently established an advanced manufacturing and robotics center of excellence at the $150 million Sharjah Research Innovation and Technology Park. The center will work with founders, small and medium enterprises, and academia to pilot advanced manufacturing and robotics technologies in real-world demonstrations.

Reasons to move your startup to Sharjah

Highly Skilled Talent

Sharjah’s University City is home to some of the region's finest higher education institutions. With the city’s constant drive for innovation, these institutions have incorporated entrepreneurial learning into their curriculums, graduating a talent pool with 21st century skills. With over 30,000 students attending these elite universities, Sharjah has mass top-tier human capital available for businesses looking to scale.

Business-friendly Regulatory Environment

A testbed for innovation and a launchpad for growth, Sharjah has one of the most secure and business-friendly regulatory environments for companies in the region. The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) and the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah) have partnered to launch an entrepreneurship card giving startups access to business consulting, discounted services, health insurance, and housing.

Market Access and Infrastructure

Positioned at the nexus of Europe, Africa, and Asia and between the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, Sharjah provides a major advantage to both investors and entrepreneurs given the city’s robust infrastructure and proximity to some of the world’s fastest growing economies in the MENA region.

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