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Dubai Future Council for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecosystems Discusses Challenge of the Future

April 13, 2020

In a virtual meeting led by HE. Khalfan Juma Belhoul, Chair of the Dubai Future Council for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecosystems, the council members highlighted that the UAE is at the forefront in launching packages of incentive initiatives for startups and entrepreneurs, as well as providing them with support to overcome the challenges amid the global COVID-19 outbreak crisis.

The meeting discussed the role of the Council in providing efforts to develop projects and immediate solutions to the challenges faced by small and medium enterprises and innovative companies in a way that enhances the process of innovation and the sustainability of the entrepreneurial sector in Dubai and the UAE.

Initiatives to adapt to current changes

Council members emphasized the importance of activating the initiatives that were discussed immediately in coordination with the government and private sector, in order to reduce the negative effects imposed by the global pandemic on vital economic sectors, as well as to maintain Dubai’s position as a leading city in attracting startups and entrepreneurs.

Members of the council, additionally highlighted the need to take advantage and make use of the reports issued by the Dubai Future Research, the research arm of the Dubai Future Foundation to better understand and anticipate the future of the entrepreneurship sector, as well as to make proactive choices to address challenges in light of the spread of the COVID-19 crisis.

Entrepreneurial Challenges

The Council also discussed a range of topics related to the entrepreneurial and innovation system in Dubai, including recent government decisions and incentive initiatives, business licenses and visas, cash flow management and an increasing reliance on the concept of remote work, and the rapid developments in the technology and innovation sector.

Khalfan Belhoul: Supporting Entrepreneurs in these Times

Speaking at the meeting, Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation said: “Throughout the coming period, the Dubai Future Council for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecosystems, will focus on strategic and effective planning to enhance the partnership of government and private entities in Dubai and the world. We are aiming to create an integrated system that provides a set of options to facilitate business practice and develop solutions to the most important challenges facing entrepreneurs.”

He added: “The UAE and Dubai in particular, have succeeded in the past couple of years in developing an integrated innovation ecosystem that fosters creativity, collaboration and innovation, and will continue to support and enable entrepreneurs to develop their projects and businesses, despite the challenges presented in recent times. The Council continues to study and analyze the best mechanisms to ensure business continuity and development for startups and entrepreneurs.”

Joint Report on the Future of Entrepreneurship

The Council will work closely with Dubai Future Research in producing a report on what the entrepreneurship landscape will look like post COVID-19. The forward-looking report will be part of a series of reports titled “Life After COVID-19” launched by the Dubai Future Foundation to anticipate and foresee the future of vital sectors in the UAE and the region amid COVID-19.

Belhoul added, “The recommendations and outcomes of the Council will be shared with the research arm at the Dubai Future Foundation to work on preparing a joint, in-depth report, highlighting the sector’s current situation, opportunities presented and what are the short- and long-term recommendations in order to mitigate impact and adapt to change moving forward”

Philip Bahoshy: Supporting startups to ensure business continuity

For his part, Philip Bahoshy, CEO of MAGNITT, stressed the importance of supporting and empowering talents that are the core of the startups business, and employing common suggestions and ideas that are discussed in the council meetings to contribute positively to the development of the startup ecosystem and the economic.  Bahoshy highlighted some of the way local governments can support startups, including removal or delay of visa charges of hiring new staff in the UAE, facilitating easy and free visa transfer between free zones and reduction on utility bills.

Fatima Al Naqbi: Identifying Challenges and Solutions

Fatima Al Naqbi, CIO at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund, pointed out some studies that are being worked on to identify the sectors and companies most affected by the current global health challenges in order to determine the best solution to ensure they keep running. She also highlighted the importance to have a unified clear PR and media voice to all startups from Dubai the UAE to allow the ecosystem to grow further.

Danny Farha: Strengthening Government Measures

Danny Farha, CEO of BECO, said that government measures related to completing contracts signed with emerging companies should be strengthened during the coming period, postponing or canceling VAT payments or extending of deadlines penalties. He also presented a proposed solution to a startup that works on a comprehensive platform for governments to manage start-up loans in response to the challenges posed by “Covid-19”.

Fadi Ghandour: Measures to limit the damages of this global crisis to the innovation system

For his part, Fadi Ghandour, Executive Chairmen of WAMDA pointed out possible solutions to address the current challenges, including cash flow management and the importance for the government to co-invest in companies and startups that have been doing well. He further proposed a central website for all startups to have access to in regards to all government related services.

Saeed Al-Marri: The facilitative measures to ensure continuation of work and innovation

Saeed Matar Al Marri, Deputy CEO at Dubai SME, said that cooperation is currently taking place with many banking authorities in the country to launch new packages to support entrepreneurs and startups companies, and stressed the importance of reducing government fees and not imposing fines on the resulting payments, stressing that the decisions not to impose fees on late renewal of commercial licenses supports the continuation of work and innovation.

Magnus Olsson: Focus on retaining talent in the job market

Magnus Olsson, co-founder of Careem, stressed the importance of focusing on retaining and protecting talents in the UAE by facilitating the movement of employees between companies, as well reducing their cost of living in Dubai and provide a sense of community, belonging and trust. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of improving challenging fund raising environment with ideas from government to facilitate or invest additional money and reduce their fees for several months during the COVID-19

Khaula Al-Kaabi: A supportive system to facilitate business and trade

Dr.Khaula presented a unique proposal of Establishing UAEGC (UAE Group Companies) regulatory platform to set trusted health system between companies & customers by overseeing infection control policies & regulations for shipping & delivery services and e-commerce companies. Also, it migrates offline retail businesses to online through B2C E-commerce platforms authorized by UAEGC.