Hugely successful inaugural edition of Expand North Star attracts over 1,800 startups from 100 countries

Hugely successful inaugural edition of Expand North Star attracts over 1,800 startups from 100 countries
Published on 18 October 2023

  • Hosted at Dubai Harbour, the four-day event was the world’s largest global gathering for startups and investors.

Expand North Star, the world’s largest gathering of startups and investors, successfully concluded on Wednesday. The four-day mega event attracted more than 1,800 startups from over 100 countries, including unicorn companies, together with around 1,000 investors who collectively manage assets worth US$ 1 trillion, representatives of investment funds, and family businesses.

Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy’s flagship event took place at Dubai Harbour from 15 – 18 October 2023, connecting the world’s most sought-after startups with innovators, investors, entrepreneurs, and the founders of global success stories. Together, participants sought to leverage the exciting growth opportunities emerging in Dubai and catalyse the future of the digital economy.

Expand North Star aims to support Dubai’s transformation into one of the world’s leading digital economies in line with the ambitions of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33) launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Launchpad Dubai

One of the key initiatives introduced during the event was Launchpad Dubai, a new platform aimed at accelerating the growth and expansion of global tech companies in Dubai including start-ups, fast-growing startups, and unicorns. The initiative offers convenient access to visa applications, banking and judicial services, housing, talent, and other essential services required to set up a new company through a single convenient platform.

The Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy stand at Expand North Star was the main venue to access Launchpad Dubai services, which hosted individual booths for partner organisations. Local and international digital companies were able to initiate the process of obtaining partner services at the stand. Participants who met the requirements could also start their application process for a Golden Visa, a long-term residence visa that offers a host of exclusive benefits.

The chamber’s stand at the Expand North Star exhibition witnessed a large turnout from emerging companies wishing to establish their business activities in Dubai. The number of visitors to the stand during the exhibition reached more than 4,000, while the number of visitors to the Launchpad Dubai platform exceeded 1,100 attendees and interested startups.

Global Entrepreneurs’ Guide to Establishing a Business in Dubai

Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy has published a comprehensive guide for startups that aims to simplify the process of setting up a business in Dubai. ‘Building Your Business in a Dynamic City: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Setup in Dubai’ is designed to guide aspiring entrepreneurs through the intricacies of the emirate’s dynamic business landscape, equipping them with the information they need to make informed decisions.

Launched during Expand North Star, the guide is packed with essential information for anyone considering establishing a new business in Dubai’s rapidly growing digital economy ecosystem. The new guide is available to download free of charge and has been developed based on in-depth research and feedback from the business community, which highlighted the need for a convenient reference tool to assist ambitious innovators who wish to become part of Dubai’s success story.

‘Building Your Business in a Dynamic City: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Setup in Dubai’ can be downloaded by visiting the following link: www.dubaichamberdigital.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/the-entrepreneurs-guide-2023.pdf

Emaratipreneur Inc.

Expand North Star also hosted the launch of Emaratipreneur Inc., a community-driven networking and development platform designed exclusively for Emirati entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors. The event featured a first-of-its-kind kind exhibition area for talented young innovators and startups to exhibit on fully built, branded, and sponsored exhibition pods, where more than 50 projects from talented Emiratis were on display. Participants also had the opportunity to visit the Emaratipreneur Majlis, where panel and group discussions will shed light on creating the next generation of startup superstars, unicorns, and globally renowned entrepreneurs from the UAE’s youth ecosystem.

App Olympics

Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy also launched the App Olympics, a new competition designed to accelerate Dubai’s journey to become the mobile app development capital of the world. The initiative was announced during the opening day of the event. The App Olympics competition is part of the ‘Create Apps in Dubai’ initiative announced by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, in March.

Open to UAE nationals and residents of all ages from any emirate, as well as global tech startups interested in establishing a presence in Dubai, the competition enables participants to learn about app development, build mobile applications, and compete for major prizes and awards that accelerate business growth.

The multi-phase challenge encourages aspiring digital entrepreneurs to submit their mobile app development ideas and benefit from expert support during their structured learning journey in the world of app development, which culminates with an exciting award ceremony that will be held during Dubai Innovation Month in February 2024.

To participate in the App Olympics, please visit: createapps.ae/en/programs/appolympics-competition

Investor Lounge

Expand North Star featured a dedicated platform for investor meetings. Over the course of the four-day event, a total of 2,500 business meetings were conducted between investors, startups and venture capital firms, with the participation of 800 investors – 60% of whom were visiting Dubai for the first time.

Commenting on the event, William Bao Bean, Managing General Partner of Orbit Startups, said that his company had arranged around 200 meetings between investors and startups during the first two days of Expand North Star. Recognised as being among the top 5% of venture capital firms globally, Orbit Startups is representing a total of 29 high-potential startups during the four-day exhibition. Describing Expand North Star as an ideal platform for bringing together key public and private sector stakeholders in the startup ecosystem, he praised the event’s success in driving engagement and helping promising startups build partnerships with investors and relevant government entities.

IFC Venture CEO Summit

International Finance Corporation (IFC) hosted the Venture CEO Summit for the first time outside the Silicon Valley region in the United States at the Expand North Star event. The summit brought together 50 of the most prominent CEOs of leading technology companies in global markets.

Held on 17 – 18 October, the summit aimed to facilitate relationship building, the exchange of knowledge and experiences, and strengthen the partnership between the International Finance Corporation and the United Arab Emirates to promote Dubai as a global hub for technology and modern innovations. It also aimed to introduce the IFC’s expertise in project financing in global markets.

The summit highlighted the latest trends in financing and risk capital, in addition to discussing topics such as artificial intelligence, exit strategies, initial public offerings, environmental practices, sustainability, and governance.

Other Initiatives and Events

Expand North Star included several events, such as the ‘Artificial Intelligence Monday,’ which brought together a select group of rapidly growing startup companies in the field of artificial intelligence. It also featured ‘India Central,’ the largest exhibition of Indian startups outside India, showcasing 200 Indian startup companies.

Additionally, the programme included ‘Asia Fast 100’ and ‘Africa Fast 100,’ each gathering the top 100 startups from their respective continents. The exhibition also hosted three events held at a common venue: “Fintech Surge,” the “Future of Blockchain Summit,” and “Marketing Mania.”

Furthermore, Expand North Star hosted an investors’ summit that brought together over 250 representatives from local and international family offices, investment funds, and investors.