Home/ Companies / Start-ups/  Abu Dhabi woos Indian startups to set up hubs

BENGALURU : Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), the government entity that helps attract companies and investors in the Gulf emirate, is pursuing Indian startups to set up bases in the region to expand the local economy beyond hydrocarbons.

ADIO is in talks with companies largely focused on sectors such as financial services, tourism, agriculture technology (agtech), ICT (information communications technology), and health services and biopharma.

“We support companies through our Investor Care services, assisting investors with information on data, networks, licensing, real estate, visas, banking and more. We connect investors with relevant stakeholders in Abu Dhabi’s innovation ecosystem, bringing together the right partnerships to help them grow and expand in the emirate," said Abdulla Abdul Aziz AlShamsi, acting director general of ADIO.

Through its $545 million ‘Innovation Programme’, ADIO has supported over 50 companies so far across US, Europe and Asia. Over the last more than a year, the partnerships have been extended to three Indian firms—FreshToHome, ANSR and Talent500. The programme gives financial and non-financial incentives to innovation-driven businesses in high-growth areas.

“We have helped innovative international companies expand to Abu Dhabi, bringing their solutions in financial services, ICT, agtech and healthcare," AlShamsi said.

“These international companies complement the existing ecosystem of local entrepreneurs and startups," he said.

Global celebrities such as former French footballer Patrice Evra, former American basketball player Metta Sandiford-Artest and Indian-American author and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra have already committed with ADIO to set up ventures in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Canadian investor and American reality show Shark Tank’s judge Kevin O’Leary also joined as an ambassador of its business expansion initiative called Access Abu Dhabi through which ADIO aids companies entering the capital city’s business and innovation ecosystem.

One of UAE’s seven emirates, Abu Dhabi is an oil exporting region aiming to diversify its businesses beyond the energy sector. Over the past years, it has expanded businesses into non-oil sectors such as real estate, financial services, tourism and pharma, among others.

As an effort to further attract investors and companies, last year ADIO also set up eight new offices in Tel Aviv, New York, San Francisco, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Beijing and Seoul.

Among the richest regions in the middle east, Abu Dhabi is also home to some of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), which has also been increasing its investments in technology and disruptive startups.

In India, ADIA is actively growing its investments with the latest being $500 million ( 4,000 crore) in eyewear chain Lenskart. It has bet in several other homegrown firms including startups and funds such as DealShare, Greenko Energy Holdings, Kotak Mahindra group, HDFC Capital and Intas Pharmaceuticals, among others.

The Abu Dhabi government, with the support of ADIO, Mubadala Investment Company and Abu Dhabi Global Markets, has also established ‘Hub71’ as a global tech ecosystem to help founders access capital, global markets and a global network of partners to build the tech enablers.

In 2021, ADIO had further announced more than AED500 mn ($136 million) in incentives to bring global agrotech innovators to Abu Dhabi.  Besides a Yas Creative Hub as the entertainment and media zone for the incoming residents, the Abu Dhabi government has also set up the Abu Dhabi Residents Office under Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) to support the integration and harmonisation of the international community with the local culture and society and taking care of the families’ healthcare and education.

(The correspondent was in Abu Dhabi at the invitation of the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office)

Beena Parmar
Been Parmar is a financial journalist based in Mumbai. She has reported on the banking and finance sector for over 10 years. She now writes on the alternative investment ecosystem from India - private equity, venture capital and especially startups. She loves to read about politics, society and humane stories.
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Updated: 20 Mar 2023, 08:05 PM IST
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