Abu Dhabi’s Startup Ecosystem Value Soars 28% in World’s Most Comprehensive Research by Startup Genome

Abu Dhabi’s Startup Ecosystem Value Soars 28% in World’s Most Comprehensive Research by Startup Genome 

UAE capital is celebrated in the 2024 Global Startup Ecosystem Report – as the fastest-growing emerging ecosystem in the MENA region.

Abu Dhabi has ranked as the fastest-growing emerging ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), marking a 28% growth in ecosystem value in the 2024 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network launched today at London Tech Week.

The GSER, powered by the world’s most quality-controlled dataset on startup ecosystems, analyses data from over 4.5 million companies across 300+ entrepreneurial innovation ecosystems. It provides compelling new insights and deep knowledge about startup trends around the world and ranks the Top 40 global ecosystems, emerging ecosystems, and an expanded regional ranking.

As part of Startup Genome’s analysis of the UAE’s capital city, including the growing startup activity at Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global technology ecosystem, the #GSER2024 report found:

  • Abu Dhabi continues to be the fastest-growing emerging ecosystem in the MENA region
  • The ecosystem created $4.2 billion in ecosystem value from July 01, 2021 to December 31, 2023, representing 28% compound annual growth compared to July 01, 2019 to December 31, 2021 time period. Ecosystem value is a measure of economic impact, calculated as the value of exits and startup valuations
  • Abu Dhabi’s ranking jumped 15 spots compared to the previous year, landing in the 61-70 group
  • Total early-stage funding between July 01, 2021 and December 31, 2023 is $284 million and total VC funding for 2019 - 2023 is $1.06 billion
  • #2 MENA Ecosystem in Performance — measures the size and performance of an ecosystem based on the accumulated tech startup value created from exits and funding
  • #5 MENA Ecosystem in Funding — measures innovation through early-stage funding and investor’s activity   
  • #5 MENA Ecosystem in Talent & Experience — measures long-term trends over the most significant performance factors            
  • Top 10 MENA Ecosystem in Knowledge — measures innovation through research and patent activity
  • Top 15 MENA Ecosystem in Bang for Buck — measures the amount of runway tech startups acquire, on average, from a VC round
  • Top 15 MENA Ecosystem in Affordable Talent — measures the ability to hire tech talent         
  • The FinTech, AgTech and New Food, and ClimateTech sectors are highlighted for their density of talent, support resources, and startup activity
  • The Golden Visa and strategic location are cited as reasons a startup should move to the ecosystem

Ahmad Ali Alwan, CEO of Hub71, said, “Abu Dhabi’s rise as a leading startup ecosystem in the region is a testament to the opportunities it offers entrepreneurs worldwide. Its favorable environment creates the funding and commercial prospects and establishes the foundation for startups to scale. This is exemplified through Hub71 which has seen its startup community grow over the past five years as more startups identify Abu Dhabi as a launchpad for their global expansion. As the Startup Genome report shows, Hub71 is fulfilling the vision of our leadership to maximise the potential of disruptive ventures that are transforming society with impact.”

The report highlights Abu Dhabi’s key ecosystem players including Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Mubadala Investment Company, ADQ, the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), startAD, and Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) who are contributing to a favorable operating and regulatory environment and offering unique incentives such as 100% foreign ownership to attract foreign investment and startups into the economy. Leveraging collaborations among these key ecosystem players, Abu Dhabi is facilitating the soft-landing of startups from around the world, enabling access to capital and commercial opportunities. Numerous companies are relocating their global headquarters to ADGM, among them U.S.-based digital asset security firm Andalusia Labs and South Korean blockchain company Neoply. Hub71 hosts a community of over 315 startups that have collectively raised $1.5 billion.

"Thanks to the excellent work of Hub71, Abu Dhabi is one of the rare places where everyone comes together to create a world-class startup ecosystem at an incredible pace," said Marc Penzel, Founder & President of Startup Genome. "Whether it's digital assets, CleanTech, or other fast-growing opportunities, Abu Dhabi should be on the radar of any entrepreneur with outsized global ambitions."

The GSER is driven by a consortium of representatives from 40+ countries and looks at the current state of startup activity and related investment, providing insights and guidance to public and private leaders on how to foster thriving startup communities — the #1 engine of job creation and economic growth. Contributions from expert thought leaders and local key players further enrich the report's extensive, evidence-based findings, which are the product of over a decade of Startup Genome's independent research and policy work.

View the full report here.

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