Microsoft for Startups Middle East

The UAE has long been synonymous with change and innovation. Much of this has been driven by SMEs and Startups, which are often at the forefront of fresh ideas – in many ways they can be considered the lifeblood of the UAE commercial spirit. There has been an acceleration of industries and technology during the course of the pandemic. ​SMEs and startups have been at the heart of the UAE’s reimagining, as natural leaders of transformation and drivers of change, holding fresh approaches, outlook, technologies and ideas. Microsoft has long provided the infrastructure and tools to support their work. 

The UAE has emerged as a regional hub for entrepreneurship over the last decade, driven by fresh ideas and an environment that encourages free enterprise – the UAE is ranked first in the Arab world in the Ease of Doing Business Index and 16th out of 190 countries globally. The strength of its ecosystem lies in the combined efforts of government and private sector organizations.  

Whether you’re looking to build your first application, land your first customer or scale to a million users, Microsoft is here to help. You can now start your business in our datacenter regions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and accelerate your growth through scalable, highly available, and resilient cloud services while maintaining data residency, security and compliance needs. Microsoft’s strategic partnerships with SMEs and startups, speaks to our commitment as a global technology partner to enable these budding entrepreneurs develop, scale, and build transformational businesses with the power of technology. 

We also understand that regulatory, compliance, and security issues can become innovation bottlenecks for SMEs and startups such as those in fintech, healthcare, insurance, and other industries. That is one of the many reasons we established our Middle East Cloud regions in the UAE) that can enable startups and SMEs to meet data residency, privacy, security, and the broadest compliance standards – freeing them from constraints and empowering them to innovate freely.  

We are working closely with the UAE government to drive forward a series of partnerships and initiatives to empower organizations from across the UAE to achieve more. Aiming to encourage and empower entrepreneurialism, we aim to lighten the burden for founders and those starting out with a new idea, by reducing costs through the scalable cloud.  

While we are already actively engaging and onboarding high-potential startups into the Global Microsoft for Startups Program, as a programmatic motion to onboard Startups on Azure, GitHub and other Microsoft technologies as long as support on go-to-market and sales acceleration, around mid May this year we will be launching Microsoft’s “Highway to 100 Unicorns” program as a regional recruitment initiative that will engage startup ecosystem enablers (Corporates, Accelerators, Incubators, Venture Studios, Venture Capital Investors and Government Programs) across the Middle East to identify and engage with high-potential technology startups in partnership with Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), offering workshops and speaker sessions while aligning with private and public sectors on insights and call to actions around the local ecosystem. These engagements will also serve as a platform for information sessions as well as Q&A with founders regarding application details for the Microsoft for Startups Program, Growth X Accelerator (the second program we are launching this year, with a focus on enterprise / B2B startups and co-creation with Corporates) and startup company incentives offered by Abu Dhabi. The “Highway to 100 Unicorns” Program will end with a pitch competition to select the first accelerator cohort of 15 startups, kicking-off around the end of August. Growth X accelerator will be a unique program recruiting high-potential startups/founders across the region by providing them access to industry experts/mentors, business fundamentals/technical workshops, introductions to investors/potential customers and the attractive incentives of setting up an office based in Abu Dhabi as the leading startup ecosystem hub in the region.

Microsoft’s strategic partnerships speak to our commitment as a global technology partner to enable budding entrepreneurs to develop, scale, and build transformational businesses with the power of technology.

Roberto Croci is the Managing Director for Microsoft for Startups MEA. With over 20 years’ experience working for the likes of Microsoft and Google, Roberto Croci’s passion lies in innovation, startups and PEOPLE. Relationship driven, he has bridged the gap between corporates and startups across more than 20 countries, helping them develop real solutions that solve real world problems.