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ADIO invests $16.3 million in new batch of innovation-focused startups

3 Mar 2020 14:17 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) has made an investment of $16.3 million (Dh60 million) in the latest batch of startups and fund managers applying to its ventures fund. The recipients, Securrency, TruKKer, Sarwa, Yacob and Okadoc, are innovation-focused companies that are either based in Abu Dhabi or expanding into the emirate. ADIO also signed its first investment in a venture capital firm, UAE based Global Ventures.

ADIO’s Ventures Fund opened in May 2019, as an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Government’s Ghadan 21 accelerator programme. The fund is supporting the growth of Abu Dhabi’s startup and venture capital ecosystem by increasing access to capital and stimulating the number of high skilled jobs in the UAE capital’s growing technology sector.

Dr Tariq bin Hendi, director general of ADIO, said: “The Ventures Fund was created to deepen Abu Dhabi’s innovation ecosystem and ensure big thinking is not constrained by limited capital. Once a startup is operational, Abu Dhabi is safe ground for innovation and a place where entrepreneurs can confidently take commercial and creative risks. ADIO is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs, we want to give startups the opportunity to become the next regional, or perhaps even global, tech success story.”

Global Ventures received funding through the Ventures Fund’s New Fund Manager Programme, which matches every dirham raised by the VC in the private market. The company is a growth-focused VC investing in revenue-generating enterprise technology companies that can scale and create impact in emerging markets.

Noor Sweid, general partner of Global Ventures, said: “We are incredibly pleased to be working with ADIO on investing in the region’s technology companies and enabling them to scale and grow into success stories. The ability for entrepreneurs to work alongside the leadership and visionaries is truly unique and provides an advantage as these founders fulfil their ambitions.”

Securrency, TruKKer, Sarwa, YACOB and Okadoc, received funding through the Venture Fund’s Startup Matching Programme, which matches dirham for dirham a lead investor’s commitment to an innovative startup, based in or relocating to Abu Dhabi. ADIO’s investments will work to spur further innovation in the capital.

Securrency, part of Abu Dhabi Global Market’s (ADGM) RegLab and a winner of Hub71’s Incentive Program, is a pioneer of blockchain technology to support global digital securities transactions. “As early as 2017, Securrency recognised the leading role Abu Dhabi and the ADGM would play in the responsible, regulated global adoption of digital assets and we have maintained a strong presence in the emirate since,” said John Hensel, co-founder and chief operating officer of Securrency.

“We applaud the efforts of the Abu Dhabi government to establish ADGM as an innovation hub and global leader in end-to-end financial technology services, and we are pleased to have ADIO as a strategic investor in Securrency. We are committed to Abu Dhabi and plan to house the bulk of our world-class software engineering talent at Hub71. Leveraging the dynamism of this technology-forward environment and the support of the visionary government of Abu Dhabi, we will develop and deliver our core digital securities technology in Abu Dhabi and contribute to further enhancing ADGM’s global reputation as one of the world’s most innovative financial centres,” Hensel continued.

Sarwa - a tech-enabled financial platform that works on implementing time-tested investment strategies and developing a personalised investment experience - received more than $8.4 million in series A round led by Kuwait Projects Company Holding (Kipco) and joined by leading investors such as the Dubai International Financial Centre, Abu Dhabi Investment Office, Vision Ventures from Saudi, Hambro Perks from the UK, as well as existing investors that were part of the previous rounds.

Mark Chahwan, CEO of Sarwa commented: “We are thrilled to have ADIO as an investor and strategic partner of Sarwa. This is a major endorsement of our company, and a testament to the success story we have created over the past two years. We believe that with ADIO’s support, we have a winning combination to continue our progress towards helping everyone in the region optimise their personal finance and make investing accessible, affordable and most importantly, transparent.”

Trukker, a regional logistic platform for road-freight, brings innovation to trucking with on-demand aggregation. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy for customers to make automated bookings and real-time tracking of trucks. Gaurav Biswas, Founder and CEO of TruKKer, said: “We are thrilled with the investment from the ADIO. As an Abu Dhabi company, TruKKer’s growth in the UAE and the MENA region will receive a further boost from ADIO’s support. We are keen to invest in the overall upgrade of the road-freight ecosystem with the use of advanced technologies and innovation in traditional processes. It is very encouraging to see government institutions like
ADIO investing in technology startups.”

Okadoc, is an online doctor appointment booking platform that connects healthcare providers and doctors with their patients. Fodhil Benturquia, Founder and CEO, Okadoc, said: “Our mission at Okadoc is to build and deploy technologies to improve the healthcare experience for everyone involved. We are very excited to be working with ADIO to achieve this mission and be part of the UAE’s tech ecosystem that enables startups like us to successfully scale across the region and beyond.”

Yacob, a seed stage startup, is helping to combat childhood obesity rates through an operating system for youth nutrition. Faisal Al Hammadi, Founder and CEO of Yacob, said: “The investment from ADIO has enabled us to fast-track our fundraising process which enables us to spend more time on execution, therefore increasing our chances of success.”

In addition to the Ventures Fund, ADIO is working alongside partners like Hub71, twofour54 and the other free zones to continue to grow the emirate’s innovation ecosystem. ADIO’s role includes connecting with innovation-led investors and companies to help them maximise the use of Abu Dhabi’s infrastructure, from its research-led universities to its specialised free zones. 2020 will see Abu Dhabi open the world’s first AI university, the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), while free zones like ADGM, Masdar and twofour54 have dedicated programmes to support early stage businesses to thrive.

Source: Khaleej Times

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