Qatar reportedly has $100M fund for startups


Qatar recently unveiled its startup investment program through its development bank at the Web Summit. The program aims to attract early and growth-stage technology companies wishing to establish or expand operations within the country. The program, known as the “Startup Qatar Investment Program,” is backed by a $100 million fund managed by Qatar Development Bank (QDB), TechCrunch has learned.

In a statement, QDB revealed that the program will offer funding of up to $500,000 to early-stage startups looking to establish a presence in Qatar, and to growth-stage companies looking to expand their operations in the Middle Eastern country. Will offer up to $5 million in funding. Additionally, the development bank highlighted that in addition to financial support, the portfolio will provide startups access to markets and expertise. As stated on its website, the program targets startups in over fifteen sectors including fintech, cleantech, agritech, B2B SaaS, healthtech, marketplaces, proptech, AI & ML, and robotics.

Mr. Abdulrahman bin Hesham Al Sowaidi, CEO of QDB, said, “QDB is accelerating its efforts to establish Qatar as a leading hub for startups in various industries, especially in the technology sector, due to its strategic importance. ” Al Sowaidi said, “Through these efforts, we aim to accelerate technology adoption across all domains to support our entrepreneurship ecosystem, foster innovation and contribute to a sustainable and business-friendly economy. “Attracting and retaining talent across sectors.”

Qatar’s startup program aligns with models employed by venture firms such as US-based Alpha Wave Global, which manages a $300 million early-stage fund (Alpha Wave Incubation) backed by ADQ, one of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds. . In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), similar venture funds stipulate that startups from outside the region establish a “second” headquarters or office in their regions in exchange for funding and additional business (which may facilitate the expansion of operations in MENA and the GCC). serve as the basis for). Advantages.

Like most venture ecosystems, many of these requirements are mandated on these venture capital firms by the limited partners in the Gulf, primarily sovereign wealth funds. Just last week, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund unveiled a $1 billion venture capital fund dedicated to international and regional venture capital funds.

For Qatar, the launch of its Fund of Funds and startup program is an important step towards developing its tech ecosystem to rival its neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The urgency is clear, as data from emerging markets data tracker Magnit shows that Qatar represented only 6% of deals in the MENA region last year, with venture capital investments in its startups amounting to just 43 million Qatari riyals (~$11 million). ) Was. 2023. In contrast, Saudi Arabia accounts for 52% of the region’s deals, while the UAE dominates in terms of deal volume.

That said, more competition contributes to the sector’s profits. Last year, the MENA region experienced a 23% decline in venture capital activity compared to the global average of 42%. Against this backdrop, Qatar’s growing involvement in venture capital, led by its sovereign wealth fund and development bank, offers a promising outlook for the wider region, where 55% of investors involved in backing startups last year were local.

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