The world's largest exhibition and conference for startups, Expand North Star 2023, opened its doors in Dubai on the 15th of October, attracting over 1,800 startups from more than 100 countries and more than 1,000 investors with assets totaling a staggering $1 trillion.
His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Finance of the UAE, inaugurated a ground-breaking event that is poised to redefine the landscape of global innovation.
This event is organized by the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy (DCDE), one of three chambers operating under the umbrella of the Dubai Chamber, and it is being held at the Dubai Harbour until the 18th of October. In his opening speech, HH Sheikh Maktoum underscored the visionary commitment of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to propel Dubai into one of the world's foremost digital economies.
"We firmly believe in the potential of our national talent to fuel the growth of the digital economy and enhance Dubai's position as a leading global hub for digital innovation, all while contributing to the development of innovative technology and AI-based solutions," Sheikh Maktoum expressed.
With the digital economy constituting a crucial pillar of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33), this event perfectly aligns with their commitment to creating new economic value through digital transformation, with an anticipated annual value of AED 100 billion. This ambitious endeavour solidifies Dubai's standing as a global hub for the digital economy and a significant player in the global digital landscape.
The impact of Expand North Star 2023 goes beyond sheer numbers. The event represents Dubai's resolute ambition to become a technology and innovation hub, fostering a conducive environment for startups and established businesses alike.
With more than 1,800 startups participating from over 100 countries and an impressive $1 trillion in investor assets, the event gathers innovation leaders from all over the globe under one banner.
Following the grand opening, HH Sheikh Maktoum took a tour of the exhibition's pavilions. Accompanied by key figures like His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, the chairman of DCDE, and other dignitaries, the tour provided an opportunity to understand the role of this event in supporting Dubai's transformation into one of the world's most flexible, diversified, and technology-driven digital hubs.
With 250 leading digital experts participating as speakers at Expand North Star 2023, the event serves as a fertile ground for connections between government stakeholders, investors, and accelerators, as well as for industry experts, innovators, and tech startups from across the globe.
It has become the primary choice for investors from 70 countries for deal-making, co-financing, and fundraising. This opens the door for ambitious digital startups to secure funding and expand their operations.
Saeed Al Gergawi, Vice President of DCDE, expressed his commitment to enabling ambitious startups to access the tools they need to thrive in Dubai. He highlighted that this event supports Dubai's transformation into one of the world's leading digital economies in line with the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33), which aims to transform 30 startups into unicorns by 2033.
Al Gergawi also noted that last year's North Star Dubai event, a precursor to Expand North Star 2023, led to the launch of around 150 startups in the UAE as a result of deals signed during the exhibition.
Expand North Star 2023 is more than a conference; it's a platform for ground-breaking initiatives and the exchange of insights. It hosts the CTO World Congress, offering a unique glimpse into the minds of the world's best tech architects and data scientists. It also features AI Monday, showcasing over 400 fast-scaling AI startups, further emphasizing the importance of artificial intelligence in the evolving digital landscape.
New initiatives are set to launch at the event, including India Central, the largest showcase of the Indian tech startup ecosystem, as well as both Asia Fast 100 and Africa Fast 100, showcasing 100 leading startups from each continent.
Emaratipreneur Inc., a community-driven networking and development platform designed exclusively for Emirati entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors, will feature a unique exhibition area for young innovators and startups. Panel and group discussions at the Emaratipreneur Majlis will illuminate the path to creating the next generation of startup superstars and unicorns, drawn from the UAE's youthful talent pool.
Other key events during the exhibition include the Supernova Challenge, a prestigious pitch competition with a prize fund of $200,000, and Fintech Surge, connecting fintech companies and startups with financial institutions, investors, regulators, corporates, and SMEs across the MENA region.
The Future Blockchain Summit, the MENA region's most immersive large-scale blockchain event, and Marketing Mania, the largest marketing and creative technology trade show in the MENA region.
The DCDE pavilion at Expand North Star 2023 also showcases a range of leading initiatives aimed at boosting the digital economy's contribution to Dubai's overall economy. These initiatives include the 'Business in Dubai' platform, which aims to foster a conducive business environment in the city by streamlining operations for companies looking to launch or expand their activities in Dubai. With 11 strategic partners providing services, this platform offers a one-stop solution for businesses.
Other initiatives include The Startup Guide, a comprehensive guide for digital startups, simplifying the process of setting up a business in Dubai, and Launchpad Dubai, which provides global technology companies with a single platform offering services such as visas, banking, housing, and employment services to set up in Dubai.
With the convergence of startups, investors, and industry experts from across the globe, Dubai is setting its sights on redefining the future of innovation.