District 2020’s global entrepreneurship programme, Scale2Dubai will welcome the first cohort of 85 start-ups and small businesses before the end of this year, joining the organisations living and working in the post-Expo 2020 Dubai community. The interest in the Scale2Dubai programme attracted more than 3,200 applications from 129 countries.

On March 31st, the Expo 2020 site will end and work to repurpose it will begin. 80 percent of Expo-built structures will be reimagined and reworked to create a mixed-use, flexible environment where people can live and work. This will now be known as a hub for global tech innovation, with the first business tenants set to take up their places by the end of this year.  

The UAE has earned a reputation as a promising start-up ecosystem, with an aim to become the leading global start-up ecosystem by 2031. Around 95 per cent of the country’s firms are SMEs or start-ups, employing 42 percent of its workers and accounting for more than 40 per cent of its GDP. The first cohort of 85 businesses from 27 countries were selected from 628 shortlisted applications, each of which went through a rigorous evaluation by three judges from a technically qualified pool of 50. 

Tala Al Ansari, Director, Innovation Ecosystem and Scale2Dubai, said, “This is an exciting milestone that reiterates District 2020’s commitment to continuing Expo 2020’s legacy of supporting entrepreneurs and contributing to Dubai’s status as innovation-driven global start-up capital. Only 50 per cent of start-ups make it to their fifth year, so we are proud to have designed a programme that supports them on this journey and eagerly look forward to welcoming Cohort 1 to District 2020 during Q4 of this year. We plan to host a new cohort every year at District 2020 and look forward to our second cohort moving in by April 2023.” 

Anchor tenants DP World, Siemens, Siemens Energy and Terminus Technologies will also play a key role in developing tech-driven solutions. They will collaborate with enterprises that will come through Scale2Dubai, and will also play a pivotal role in bringing innovative solutions to the fore and feeding these into the ecosystem.

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