Setting up in Abu Dhabi: ADGM's Tech Startup License

Setting up in Abu Dhabi: ADGM's Tech Startup License 

ADGM's Tech Startup License enables entrepreneurs to set up in the UAE quickly and easily.

Are you a tech company looking to set up in the UAE? ADGM’s Tech Start-up Licence might be interesting to consider, as it allows entrepreneurs to set up in the UAE at a very competitive cost with the need for a physical office.

With the Tech Start-up Licence, businesses can hit the ground running and take immediate advantage of ADGM’s community of advisors and business partners, its supportive environment and its internationally recognised legal and commercial frameworks.

ADGM's licence is categorized in two stages; seed and emergent.

Startups can also apply to the Hub71 Incentive Program which provides up to 100% subsidies on housing, office space and health insurance for up to 25 employees, for up to three years.

Eligibility for the incentivised licence is determined at the time of application and the duration is fixed.

For example, if a startup is approved for the seed stage incentivised licence, it will have two years in seed stage and will automatically move into the emergent stage in its third year of operations in ADGM regardless of the number of full time employees.


Who can apply?

  • Local, regional and international startups.
  • Startups with an innovative tech business model that leverages technology as the main platform to solve customer challenges and provides products and services that meet specific market needs.
  • Tech startups that have the potential to scale regionally (or globally).
  • Tech startups with product/market fit that support sustainable economic development.
  • A business model must fall within the ADGM regulation remit and business structures – see FAQs

Tech Startup Licence benefits

The range of benefits of the Tech Startup Commercial Licence include:

  • An operational commercial licence which is Sector agnostic
  • Competitive annual licence fees within the first 5 years of operation in ADGM:
    • Seed stage annual fee USD 700 (max: two years)
    • Emergent stage annual fee USD 4,000 (max: three years)
  • 1.5 visas for every desk space
  • Eligible* to apply to Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development for dual licence recognition (needs to meet criteria, see FAQs)
  • Potential access to funding and equity-free subsidies through Hub71
  • Potential access to Hub71 community including accelerator programmes such as Plug & Play
  • Access to local and international entrepreneurial mentors and experts
  • An independent jurisdiction with an internationally recognised English common law framework.


Startup stages, criteria and incentive benefits

    Seed Emergent
Stage of maturity Number of FTEs* 1 - 10 11 - 50
Year since first registration in UAE Does not exceed three (3) years Does not exceed five (5) years
Incentive packages Incentivised licence fee USD 700 P.A. USD 4,000 P.A.
Duration of incentive 2 Years 3 Years
Office space requirements 1 Desk space+ in an incubator / co-working space domiciled in ADGM 1 Desk space+ in an incubator / co-working space domiciled in ADGM
Visa eligibility 1.5 Visas for every desk space 1.5 Visas for every desk space

* FTEs: Full time employees + Dedicated office or desk is required.

NB: The ADGM Tech Startup Licence is not available for technology service providers. To learn more, check out ADGM's website.

Download the full document to learn more:

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