by Belinda Breeze

Regional finale of the Global Startup Awards, hosted by AURAK, featured finalists from 8 countries, spotlighting some outstanding startups.

The Middle East Startup Awards (MESA) 2022-23, the regional round of the Global Startup Awards, honoured some of the most dynamic startups from eight countries of the region at the end of a two-day conference and exhibition, hosted by the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK).

The Middle East Startup Awards recognise the exceptional achievements of innovation and tech-driven startups and entrepreneurs from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Jordan.

The Guest of Honour at the opening session was HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Kayed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development, Ras Al Khaimah.

The event also hosted the Youth Innovation Challenge, in which young minds were invited to showcase their innovative projects before a distinguished panel in the presence of the chief guest, HE Mohamed Ali Musabbeh Al Nuaimi, Chairman, RAK Chamber of Commerce.

The AURAK campus hosted the two-day event, uniting experts from around the globe and the region, alongside investors and industry leaders in a distinctive celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship. The event featured keynote speeches, panel discussions, and networking sessions focused on strategies for launching, expanding, and scaling startups. Additionally, the event witnessed participation from over ten universities and attracted more than 300 participants.

In his keynote address, Dr. David A. Schmidt, President of AURAK, said: “It is a matter of great pride for AURAK to host the Middle East Startup Awards. AURAK has one of the most dynamic entrepreneurship centres in the region, with a thriving student incubator that provides a supportive ecosystem for aspiring entrepreneurs. These programs often leverage technology to connect startups with mentors, investors, and industry experts. Universities can facilitate technology transfer from academic research to the commercial sector. This process involves licensing intellectual property, fostering industry partnerships, and supporting the creation of spin-off companies.”

Sagarika Sahoo, Co-Founder of Middle East Startup Awards, said: “The second edition of these awards achieved remarkable success, drawing in over 3,500 nominations and culminating in the selection of 135 finalists, and ultimately producing 12 deserving winners. The event was enriched by the presence of prominent industry leaders, investors, startup founders, and fellow entrepreneurs. The response testifies to the vibrancy of the region’s startups, and we are confident the event will inspire more innovators to launch their startups and thus contribute to the national economy. The support of the Ras Al Khaimah Government and AURAK in hosting this event was unparalleled.”

The winners of the Middle East Startup Awards 2022-23 are:

Reachware, Saudi Arabia (Startup of the Year); Zabonex, Oman (Best Newcomer of the Year); Ms. Altaf AlThekair, Circle, Kuwait (Founder of the Year); Al Zarooni Emirates Investments, UAE (Best Family Office); Pioneer Investors, Oman (VC of the Year); Astro Labs LLC, UAE (Best Co-working Space); Misk Foundation Entrepreneurship, Saudi Arabia (Best Accelerator / Incubator Program); Mr. Hamid Alibeiki, Oman (Ecosystem Hero of the Year); Ion Microsystems, Jordan (Best Green Tech Startup of the Year); Dudi Sports Technologies, UAE (Best Health Tech Startup of the Year); Paybybit Payment Services Provider Co. LLC, UAE (Best Web 3.0 and AI Startup of the Year); Ms. Seham Yateem, Bahrain (Diversity Role Model of the Year) and Paybybit Payment Services Provider Co. LLC, UAE (People’s Choice Award).

The Middle East Startup Awards is the regional segment of the Global Startup Awards under the operational management of Commerce Connect Events Exhibition & Management (CCEEM). These awards celebrate outstanding ideas from 12 regions spanning across 120 countries. Selecting winners encompasses all facets of the startup ecosystem, employing a network that includes local ambassadors, country partners, national and international jury members, and key advisors comprising prominent investors, political stakeholders, founders, and community builders.