Plug and Play will also be investing in local startups and providing its professional services with ADGM
Plug and Play, the Silicon Valley tech accelerator which has been in operation since 2006, recently signed a global partnership with Abu Dhabi Global Market ADGM. One of the remits of this partnership will be to connect its portfolio of Fintech startups to local and regional financial institutions through a Fintech startup acceleration program.
UNLOCK interviewed Omeed Mehrinfar, Regional Director, EMEA at Plug and Play. “We are very pleased to be here in the region. We have two lines of business one is our professional services that serves corporate entities to develop their innovation KPIs, connect with technologies and scale with potential startups and the other is our accelerator and investment side where we invest in startups at early stages and help them to scale.”
What sets Plug and Play apart from the rest of accelerators worldwide is that they do not take equity from startups who sign up with them, but rather provide them with mentoring and services and then later on work out an investment agreement if they are interested. As Mehrinfar states, “Today we have over 260 corporate clients working with us around the globe. While we were for sometime based solely in USA Bay Area, we realized that our corporate clients would rather have us in close proximity to leadership for push power and buy in. Since then we have expanded our presence from 8 offices across the globe to 28 offices and by the end of the year we should have 33 offices.”
The opening of Abu Dhabi will be on May 8th. It is the first time Plug and Play opens in the MENA region after expanding into Europe, South East Asia, Singapore and others.
However, according to Mehrinfar Plug and Play will not only work to match make between Fintech startups and financial and governmental corporations in UAE and the surrounding countries, but it also plans to start investing in startups from the region. As Mehrinfar explained, “By August September of 2018 after we have established our professional service business we hope to start looking into investing in startups here in the region. The funds will come directly from PlugandPlay San Francisco headquarters after consultation with investment committee of which I am a member.”
The new acceleration program will form part of the new ADGM FinTech Innovation Centre, a physical hub for fintech start-ups which will be home to participants in ADGM’s RegLab fintech sandbox program. The centre will be launched next year. According to Mehrinfar, “Although regulation is still catching up with the technological advancements it doesn’t mean that being late to the game is necessarily wrong. I feel that here in the region governmental regulatory bodies are actually pushing innovation forward with the private sector and if you have the capital and know-how you can make up for time lost.”
As Mehrinfar mentions one of the technologies that will be brought on board is Blockchain and there are dedicated specialists within Plug and Play that understand Blockchain immensely. It is obvious that Blockchain will be part of the Fintech sandbox program as will other technologies.