India-UAE Start-Up Corridor to enhance the start-up ecosystem for the two countries

Arif Amiri

Published: 24/05/2022

"Since DIFC’s establishment in 2004, we have demonstrated our commitment to building and maintaining sustained, long-lasting partnerships with the Indian market. Indian banks, insurers, law firms and wealth managers have already chosen DIFC as their preferred global financial centre in the region and we are delighted to be working with FICCI LEAD to build a corridor that will attract more Indian start-ups to set up here.”
– Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority

Dubai, UAE; 24 May 2022: FICCI LEAD, a technology and business incubator of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), andthe Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) have inked a landmark MOU to launch the “India-UAE Start-Up Corridor”. The objective of the initiative is to enhance and expand the start-up ecosystem between India and the UAE. It will also further the vision of the leadership of both countries under the recently signed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Around 10 technology-led innovative start-ups from various sectors, including financial services, education and logistics, have been shortlisted for the inauguration of the India-UAE Start-Up Corridor in Dubai. This initiative between the two would create an ecosystem to embolden the engagement between start-ups, investors, incubators, corporations and entrepreneurs to scale their business and strengthen their position in the global market. It will target a minimum of 50 validated start-ups based in India and the UAE over a period of five years with the vision to grow 10 of them into unicorns (start-ups valued at more than $1 billion) by 2025.

This MOU between FICCI LEAD and DIFC is a follow on to the MOU that was signed between FICCI LEAD, Indian Angel Network (IAN), Turbostart, India and MCA Management Consultants, UAE, on January 26 this year at Expo 2020 Dubai, wherein a venture capital fund of $150 million was announced.

Mr. Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “Since DIFC’s establishment in 2004, we have demonstrated our commitment to building and maintaining sustained, long-lasting partnerships with the Indian market. Indian banks, insurers, law firms and wealth managers have already chosen DIFC as their preferred global financial centre in the region and we are delighted to be working with FICCI LEAD to build a corridor that will attract more Indian start-ups to set up here.”

Mr. Ajai Chowdhry, Chairman of FICCI Start-Up Corridor & FICCI Lead, said: "This landmark MOU is the beginning of an important partnership on enhancing opportunities in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems between India and the UAE. FICCI remains committed to progressively scaling this India-UAE Start-Up Corridor in collaboration with our partner, DIFC, and help convert at least 10 start-ups into unicorns."

Mr. Ganesh Raju, Co-Chairman of FICCI Start-Up Committee & FICCI Lead, said: “The India-UAE Start-up Corridor has the potential to be a game-changer. It will bring large pools of funding as well as provide access to markets for start-ups from both countries. It is a perfect opportunity for investors to engage through this corridor and help breed the next generation of valuable companies.”

Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India, Dubai, said: “I am certain that this MOU between FICCI LEAD and DIFC will foster deeper collaboration between the start-up ecosystems of India and the UAE and bring in opportunities to further the momentum set by interactions during Expo 2020 Dubai. We are excited for the coming years that will witness the emergence of new soonicorns and unicorns in both countries and contribute to finding innovative solutions to global challenges.”

Dr Nirankar Saxena, Deputy Secretary-General of FICCI, said, “India’s oldest and largest apex industry chamber, FICCI, has been a longstanding player in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. It has played a key role in fostering Indian start-ups by providing funding, capacity building and market access under several public-private programmes. It is a proud moment for FICCI LEAD to create an ecosystem for Indian start-ups in Dubai, UAE, in collaboration with DIFC Innovation Hub, which is aligned with the visionary leadership of the UAE to create 20 unicorns by 2031”.

Mr. S. Venkatesh, Managing Partner, MCA, said “This MOU is a significant step in enabling the Indian start-ups to have a launch pad in the UAE and widen their market reach to GCC and beyond. He added that MCA is proud to be participating in this great initiative to further economic growth.”

Mr. Manoj Nayak, Founder of 6th Sense, said “The India-UAE Start-Up Corridor has been initiated at the right time to bring more prosperity to both the countries and to the global economy. Nayak added that 6th Sense is proud to be part of this programme.”

India had launched Start-Up India, envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in January 2016 to give impetus to the indigenous ecosystem and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. India now boasts of the world’s third-largest ecosystem for start-ups. Additionally, over the past five years, India has leapfrogged in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking to 63rd position among 190 nations, from 142nd position in 2014. In 2020, India also joined the group of Top 50 countries in the Global Innovation Index (GII) of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The UAE aims to create 20 unicorns by 2031 and already the leader in the MENA region in terms of tech transformation, digital acceleration and embracing innovative ideas.

Since 2007, FICCI has been an active player in the ecosystem and has supported 1000+ start-ups/innovators with more than Rs125 crores. The start-up enterprises supported by FICCI have been able to generate 140,000+ jobs and leverage more than five times capital from external market sources. More than 100 companies have been provided access to the global markets across the US, South Asia and Africa.

About FICCI LEAD: FICCI LEAD, a Technology and Business Incubator of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry. As a non-government, not-for-profit organisation, FICCI is the voice of India's business and industry. From influencing policy to encouraging debate, engaging with policy makers and civil society, FICCI articulates the views and concerns of industry. It serves its members from the Indian private and public corporate sectors and multinational companies, drawing its strength from diverse regional chambers of commerce and industry across states, reaching out to over 250,000 companies.

About DIFC:

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is one of the world’s most advanced financial centres, and the leading financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, which comprises 72 countries with an approximate population of 3 billion and an estimated GDP of USD 7.7 trillion.

With an 18-year track record of facilitating trade and investment flows across the MEASA region, the Centre connects these fast-growing markets with the economies of Asia, Europe and the Americas through Dubai.

DIFC is home to an internationally recognised, independent regulator and a proven judicial system with an English common law framework, as well as the region’s largest financial ecosystem of almost 30,000 professionals working across over 3,600 active registered companies – making up the largest and most diverse pool of industry talent in the region.

The Centre’s vision is to drive the future of finance through cutting-edge technology, innovation, and partnerships. Today, it is the global future of finance and innovation hub offering one of the region’s most comprehensive FinTech and venture capital environments, including cost-effective licensing solutions, fit-for-purpose regulation, innovative accelerator programmes, and funding for growth-stage start-ups.

Comprising a variety of world-renowned retail and dining venues, a dynamic art and culture scene, residential apartments, hotels and public spaces, DIFC continues to be one of Dubai’s most sought-after business and lifestyle destinations.

For further information, please visit our website:, or follow us on Twitter @DIFC.

About Indian Angel Network: Indian Angel Network is a network of Angel investors keen to invest in early-stage businesses which have potential to create disproportionate value. The members of the Network are leaders in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem as they have had strong operational experience as CEOs or a background of creating new and successful ventures. They share a passion to create scale and value for start-up ventures. Started in April 2006, the Indian Angel Network in addition to money, provides constant access to high quality mentoring, vast networks, and inputs on strategy as well as execution. The Network members, because of their background are better able to assess the potential and risks at the early stage.

About Turbostart: Run in a competition format, Turbostart is a yearly, sector agnostic, pan-India programme which identifies and funds the most innovative start-ups in the country and guides them to scalability. Turbostart looks to bring in prospective early-stage start-ups and guide them to scalability though d a vibrant and empowering start-up ecosystem. Turbostart realizes the potential of the Indian entrepreneur and aims to simplify their entrepreneurial journey by providing unparalleled start-up support.

“We’re on the path to creating an engaging global start-up ecosystem where entrepreneurs are backed in their desire to grow without being delayed by the usual obstacles that come with starting a venture.” – Turbostart

About MCA Management Consultants: MCA has a vast network across the GCC with Offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Bahrain, Muscat, Jeddah and Qatar. MCA provides professional services to Multi-nationals, Government, Large Enterprises, Medium Small and Micro businesses including start-ups across various sectors ranging from FMCG, IT, E-Commerce, Manufacturing, Trading, Aviation, Insurance, Retail to Tourism. MCA has been advising and mentoring start-ups and entrepreneurs in early and growth stages.

About 6th Sense Ventures: Founded in 2015, 6th Sense’s core purpose is to help organizations gain a sustainable competitive advantage in the market place by transforming data and information resources into strategic assets. 6th Sense with skills and instincts for complex transformation have been honed through dozens of challenging assignments across the globe in multiple domains.