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UAE DIFC launches digital asset and DeFi venture studio

Over the next 5 years, over 20 studios will setup in the DIFC and are expected to launch over 200 new ventures of which over 100 will be scale-ups and 10 will gain unicorn status

UAE DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre), a global financial center in the MENA and South Asia launches the world’s first venture studio platform exclusively focused on ubiquitous finance and digital asset technologies and decentralized Finance DeFi.

The initiative is a key part of DIFC’s efforts to achieve the goals of its 2030 strategy by attracting the best minds and companies from around the world to Dubai by providing them with all the necessary support to develop, test and launch new start-ups, scale-ups and corporate ventures on an unprecedented scale, time to market and quality.

The future of finance is bigger than any single company, government, or individual. DIFC is creating an environment where world class entrepreneurs, leading venture studios and forward-looking corporations come together to imagine a new world where financial services are digitized, decentralized and ubiquitous.

To power this vision, DIFC is launching a dedicated unit called the Studio Launchpad, which is supported by an international group of venture building experts, digital asset pioneers and emerging technology strategists. Studio Launchpad is designed to attract and engage a consortium of leading start-up and corporate venture studios. The effort builds upon DIFC’s unique ecosystem to enable collaboration and co-creation between venture studios, corporations, entrepreneurs, investors and academic partners from around the world. 

Venture studios are innovative organisations that proactively build and invest in start-ups and help them actively achieve success with their own internal capabilities. There are over 730 active venture studios around the world. Over 50 per cent of them launched in the past 5 years. The rate of growth among corporate venture studios is even higher. New ventures that launch from studios experience 30 per cent higher company success rates and about 5 per cent make it to unicorn status according to research published by the Global Startup Studio Network.

With this initiative, Dubai will become the leading hub for venture building in MEASA and join cities like San Francisco, New York, Berlin and Paris. Over the next 5 years, over 20 studios will setup in the DIFC and are expected to launch over 200 new ventures of which over 100 will be scale-ups and 10 will gain unicorn status. Together they will create over 8,000 innovation jobs in Dubai and attract over AED 2 billion in venture capital.

His Excellency Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, said: “DIFC is already home to the largest financial and FinTech ecosystems in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Launching the first global Venture Studio Launchpad is a core pillar of our vision to put DIFC at the center of the digital transformation of the financial sector in the UAE and globally, reflecting the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.”

He added: “We see great potential to leverage the venture studio model to accelerate creation of scale-ups and unicorns from Dubai that will contribute over-proportionally to new job creation and economic development. DIFC is building an ecosystem from the ground-up that will support studios and founders with everything they need to be successful and reimagine virtually every aspect of the financial services value chain to help realise Dubai’s ambitions for the digital era.”

The Studio Launchpad streamlines the company-formation process and fast-tracks the development of new companies that will underpin DIFC’s quickly developing “Ubiquitous Finance” ecosystem. The Launchpad also supports fundraising and scaling of new ventures by providing resident venture studio operators with access to a global network of potential customers, entrepreneurs, investors, and subject-matter experts, all underpinned by a progressive regulatory environment and world-class infrastructure.

Part of the Launchpad offering will be a first-of-its-kind Research Living Lab which will drive thought leadership and hands-on research in this fast-evolving space with the aim to open new opportunities and produce data and insights that can inform how to shape existing and future business models, laws, and regulations.

DIFC has broken ground on a new 150,000+ sq. ft. purpose-built facility that will house the Studio Launchpad team who will work alongside corporate sponsors, investors, and the new ventures they co-create. Every aspect of the design encourages the kind of spontaneous interactions that build community, create partnerships and drive innovation.

The “Ubiquitous Finance” innovation ecosystem and Studio Launchpad was developed by DIFC in partnership with Dubai-based venture studio Enhance Ventures and Silicon Foundry, a leading Silicon Valley-based innovation advisory group.

Just last month DIFC issued a consultation paper on cryptocurrencies.


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