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DIFC launches global venture studio launchpad to grow ‘ubiquitous finance’ sector

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Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial center in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, announced the launch of the world’s first venture studio platform exclusively focused on ubiquitous finance and digital asset technologies.

The initiative is a key part of DIFC’s efforts to achieve the goals of its 2030 strategy by attracting the best minds and companies from around the world to Dubai by providing them with all the necessary support to develop, test, and launch new start-ups, scale-ups and corporate ventures on an unprecedented scale, time to market and quality.

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To power this vision, DIFC is launching a dedicated unit called the Studio Launchpad, which is supported by an international group of venture building experts, digital asset pioneers, and emerging technology strategists.

Studio Launchpad is designed to attract and engage a consortium of leading start-ups and corporate venture studios.

The effort builds upon DIFC’s unique ecosystem to enable collaboration and co-creation between venture studios, corporations, entrepreneurs, investors, and academic partners from around the world.

With this initiative, Dubai will become the leading hub for venture building in MEASA and join cities like San Francisco, New York, Berlin and Paris.

Over the next five years, over 20 studios will set up in the DIFC and are expected to launch over 200 new ventures of which over 100 will be scale-ups and 10 will gain unicorn status. Together, they will create over 8,000 innovation jobs in Dubai and attract over Dh. 2 billion in venture capital.

“DIFC is already home to the largest financial and FinTech ecosystems in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Launching the first global Venture Studio Launchpad is a core pillar of our vision to put DIFC at the center of the digital transformation of the financial sector in the UAE and globally, reflecting the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum,” said Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC.

“We see great potential to leverage the venture studio model to accelerate creation of scale-ups and unicorns from Dubai that will contribute over-proportionally to new job creation and economic development. DIFC is building an ecosystem from the ground-up that will support studios and founders with everything they need to be successful and reimagine virtually every aspect of the financial services value chain to help realise Dubai’s ambitions for the digital era,” he said.

Venture studios

Venture studios are innovative organizations that proactively build and invest in start-ups and help them actively achieve success with their own internal capabilities. There are over 730 active venture studios around the world. Over 50 per cent of them launched in the past five years. The rate of growth among corporate venture studios is even higher.

New ventures that launch from studios experience 30 per cent higher company success rates and about 5 per cent make it to unicorn status, according to research published by the Global Startup Studio Network.

Part of the Launchpad offering will be a first-of-its-kind Research Living Lab which will drive thought leadership and hands-on research in this fast-evolving space with the aim to open new opportunities and produce data and insights that can inform how to shape existing and future business models, laws, and regulations.

DIFC has broken ground on a new 150,000+ sq. ft. purpose-built facility that will house the Studio Launchpad team who will work alongside corporate sponsors, investors, and the new ventures they co-create. Every aspect of the design encourages the kind of spontaneous interactions that build community, create partnerships, and drive innovation.

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