“Sharjah continues to be the leading destination for entrepreneurs creating positive impact, driving innovative solutions and contributing to the nation’s socio-economic growth. Sheraa is proud to be the catalyst behind these relentless changemakers.”
When it comes to innovation, the UAE is aiming high, and Sharjah is playing a key role in reaching these ambitious goals. The National Agenda for Entrepreneurship includes 29 initiatives and incentive packages aimed at having one million startups and 10 locally incubated unicorns. In October 2022, the UAE Ministry of Economy launched the Entrepreneurial Nation 2.0 program, which seeks to develop more than 8,000 SMEs and startups by 2030.
The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) has supported more than 150 startups since its inception in 2016 through a soft-landing scheme and accelerator and incubation programs that provide access to mentorship, customers, and capital. Sharjah Startup Studio (s3) is a six-month equity-free accelerator program that is personalized to serve participating startups’ needs. It uses a collaborative model to help founders develop an MVP and launch, including access to seed funding, dedicated experts, product development capabilities, and business framework creation and setup. Sheraa has a focus on Edtech, Cleantech, and creative industries in 2023, with the goal of producing more local impact-driven startups. The organization has the goal of developing future-ready talent and has upskilled more than 6,000 youth in entrepreneurship and skills of the future. Other local startup support programs include the Badiri Entrepreneurship Programme, which has graduated more than 1,000 female founders.
The Sharjah Investment Forum took place in February 2023, providing valuable networking opportunities and investment connections and featuring a pitch competition and hackathon. Sharjah and Hong Kong signed a strategic investment partnership at the event.
Ecosystem by the Numbers
In February 2023, the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center launched the Access Sharjah Challenge 2023, calling for global startups to implement solutions with corporate partners worth AED 250,000 ($70,000) in commercial value. Sharjah Waste to Energy plant aims to make Sharjah the Middle East’s first zero-waste city. Sharjah Sustainable City is a planned community designed to improve quality of life for residents without compromising future generations. It includes smart-home automation, water-saving appliances, and other Cleantech innovations.
Digital & Creative Industries
Sharjah Media City (Shams) is a free zone dedicated to creative startups. Created in collaboration with UAE-based venture building studio Grow Valley, Shams Valley aims to shape the future of media in the region. Through a partnership with venture debt platform Funding Souq, Shams also provides financing for startups and SMEs. Sheraa provides strategic connections and introductions to both public and private sector partners, which provide creative startups with a competitive advantage and allows them to kick-start their impact.
The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital technology education in the Gulf, and with the support of the University City in Sharjah, the sub-sector is poised to grow further. Sheraa-incubated Oktopi acquired the U.K. Edtech startup Tutor House in October 2022. Online learning platform Almentor partnered with HBMSU to launch an entrepreneurship initiative for Arab youth. Almentor has raised $24.5 million over six rounds, with the most recent a March 2023 $10 million Series C round.
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Sharjah
The University City of Sharjah is home to more than 20 educational institutions. Sheraa has hubs at both the American University of Sharjah and University of Sharjah, providing youth incubation and upskilling programs as well as the Startup Career Fair, which provides startups with the opportunity to connect with exceptional talent from both of the universities.
In 2021, Sharjah’s GDP was $35.5 billion. The UAE boasted GDP growth of 7.6% in 2022 and has projected growth of 4.2% in 2023. The country offers a business-friendly environment, including modern legislation, future-ready infrastructure, a talented workforce, and an ecosystem of more than 60,000 SMEs and startups, and Sharjah is a major part of this growing economy.
The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) is a government-supported entity with a mandate to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem and support entrepreneurs. Invest in Sharjah is a strategic partner for global investors looking to grow their business in the emirate. It provides expert market knowledge, access to investment opportunities across a range of sectors and industries, and step-by-step guidance.
Selected Startup Organizations
Startup Genome Members
Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center
The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) is a government-supported entity launched in 2016 with a mandate to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sharjah and support entrepreneurs as they build and grow innovative startups that will contribute positively to the region’s economy. Sheraa works with entrepreneurs to build, launch, and scale startups that go on to make a significant impact in their communities. The organization also has a strong focus on empowering the next generation of changemakers, through hackathons and capacity building programs at university hubs. Sheraa also hosts the annual Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, which has attracted over 18,000 attendees over six years. Its offerings support the full spectrum of entrepreneurship, from motivating youth to scaling startups, driving Sharjah’s vision of being a world-class entrepreneurship hub.
Key Ecosystem Players
Sharjah Research Technology & Innovation Park (SRTIP)
News from the Ecosystem
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