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Dubai’s newest city ‘District 2020’ shortlists more than 600 startup applications

District 2020 is sifting through thousands of applications to arrive at the final selection of startups that will find a place here.

Dubai: District 2020, which is the future of the Expo 2020 destination, has shortlisted more than 600 applications from global start-ups and small businesses through its dedicated entrepreneurship programme. This marks the first major milestone for its ‘Scale2Dubai’ initiative, which began accepting applications back in September.

The final announcement of successful applicants is expected to be revealed by March end and will see over 80 selected start-ups and small businesses joining District 2020’s community from October 2022. “We received tremendous interest in our global entrepreneur programme, Scale2Dubai, with over 3,200 registrations from 129 countries,” said said Tala Al Ansari, Director, Innovation Ecosystem and Scale2Dubai. “From those registrations, we had over 1,000 applications which then moved to the screening stage.”

On March 31, the doors to Expo 2020 Dubai will close and the work to repurpose the 4.38 square kilometre site will begin. Around 80 per cent of Expo-built structures will be retained and repurposed to host up to 145,000 residents and workers, with 115,000 sqm NLA set to become available for companies of all sizes starting from October 2022.

“We’re proud to say that 628 businesses have been shortlisted for evaluation, which is really encouraging considering the criteria of businesses we’re seeking to bring as a part of this programme,” said Al Ansari. “Each application will now be reviewed by a panel of technically qualified judges, and more than 80 selected start-ups and small businesses will join District 2020 when we open doors in October this year.”

Scale2Dubai is designed to ensure small business and start-ups thrive within its innovation ecosystem. Less than 1 per cent of programmes globally focus on helping businesses scale and only 50 per cent of start-ups make it to their fifth year. Scale2Dubai will provide start-ups and small businesses with access to deal flow, funding, talent and more to ensure they thrive in District 2020, Dubai, and the UAE as a whole.

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