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Dubai Silicon Oasis kicks off ‘SANDBOX’, a programme for early-stage startups

01 Mar, 2022

Dubai Silicon Oasis kicks off ‘SANDBOX’, a programme for early-stage startups

Region’s first-of-its-kind startup Programme seeks to support early-stage technology startups scale and raise funds

First cohort of the Programme features 12 early-stage startups in the tech field

Programme receives more than 600 applications from startups and entrepreneurs within four months of launch


Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), the integrated free zone technology park, announced the commencement of SANDBOX, the region’s first-of-its-kind startup programme to support early-stage technology startups scale and raise funds. Launched at GITEX Future Stars in October 2021, the Programme has received more than 600 applications from startups and entrepreneurs within four months of its launch.

Twelve applicants, all operating in tech-focused fields, have been accepted to join the 12-month Programme, run by the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec), DSO’s tech hub and coworking space, and the largest of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Dr. Juma Al Matrooshi, Director General of Dubai silicon Oasis, said: “Nearly 95% of the companies operating in Dubai are SMEs, and they employ 42% of the workforce in the private sector. Nonetheless, there is a gap in funding for early-stage startups and entrepreneurs. This Programme addresses precisely that requirement and supports startups, especially those developing promising tech-driven innovations, to have a fighting chance.”

Dr. Juma added: “When we first envisioned SANDBOX, we were confident it will grab the attention of the entrepreneurial world and we are proud to see so many come forward to apply. It was a tough process to go through all the applications and to shortlist a handful, but the Programme follows a rolling application process, so we’re happy to keep registration doors open. We are excited to see what these 12 chosen startups will do with their time and experience here.”

Six key pillars
SANDBOX, Dtec’s landmark programme, is built on six key pillars – product development, traction, scaling, financial diagnostics, legal support, and wellness. With the backing of Dtec Ventures, SANDBOX builds on the existing vibrant community of emerging entrepreneurs in MENA’s largest tech hub, Dtec. Recognising the significance of supporting startups in their early stages, Dtec is offering SANDBOX participants exclusive company setup rates as well as access to leading venture capital funds, and broad services provided by Dtec’s partners.

The 12 startups will follow a structured curriculum inclusive of theoretical and practical workshops, mentorship sessions, and networking opportunities designed to help them grow. Participants will benefit from 200+ hours of practical workshops across the six pillars, and 100+ hours of one-on-one mentorship from practitioners and field experts.

First cohort
The early-stage startups making up the first cohort of the Programme are Delivers.ai, an autonomous network of robots focusing on last-mile delivery; Distichain, a platform that delivers white-label B2B marketplaces-as-a-service using blockchain and artificial intelligence; Ingeniodata, an IoT company that offers an indoor wayfinding solution merging maps, augmented reality, and Bluetooth beacon technologies; Hifz, an app that enables cafes and/or restaurants to commercialise near-expiring produce by selling it at discounted rates; and Revent, a specialised B2C marketplace dedicated to pre-owned devices.

Other startups participating in the Programme include Konspot, a video conference platform enabling developers to integrate video meetings inside existing business applications; Hulexo, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system provider using low code and rapid application development technologies; AHAD, a B2B marketplace for cyber solutions including cybersecurity, compliance and digital transformation; DUDI, a social sports marketplace enabling anyone to access and truly enjoy sports; Oslo Pet Insurance, providing cloud-based pet insurance across MENA; Bitocast, a podcasting app that makes creating, exploring and sharing bitesize audio accessible to all; and Sketshare, a virtual whiteboard enabling real-time collaboration.

Dtec offers coworking spaces, business accelerators, R&D facilities, event spaces, and digital business setup support including licensing. It houses more than 1,000 startups from 75 countries. Through Dtec, DSO supports entrepreneurs, startups, and innovators, especially those that operate in the technology, artificial intelligence, and digitalisation spheres.

For more information on SANDBOX and to apply, please visit: https://www.sandbox.dtec.ae.

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