Sharjah rises to 4th in GCC region and 7th in MENA in 2024 Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings

Photo credit: WAM

Sharjah’s status as an entrepreneurial haven has been reaffirmed after the 2024 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) revealed the emirate being 4th in the GCC, and 7th in the MENA region’s startup ecosystem rankings, WAM reports.

The Startup Genome and Global Entrepreneurship Network standings, announced at London Tech Week, put Sharjah two spots higher than in 2023 due to the emirate’s growing influence and competitiveness in the international startup scene.

Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sheraa, Sharjah’s flagship start-up incubator, said, ‘Ranking 4th in the GCC region and 7th in the MENA startup ecosystem shows that Sharjah’s strategic focus on entrepreneurialism is working — and it’s getting noticed. Our startup ecosystem is investor- and business-friendly, committed to nurturing innovation, and it’s a dynamic global hub where forward-thinking minds converge. We’re on the right track, and this step forward strengthens our resolve to empower entrepreneurs in Sharjah and drive sustainable economic development in the region and beyond.”

The report highlights the strengths of Sharjah’s startup ecosystem in specific sectors, including Cleantech, Digital & Creative Industries, as well as Edtech, which have shown a high density of talent, support resources, and startup activity.

Sharjah's strong performance is further evidenced by its rankings in various categories including #5 in ‘Bang for Buck’, indicating the amount of runway tech startups acquire, on average, from a VC round; #6 in Funding, measuring innovation through early-stage funding and investor activity; and #7 in Market Reach, tracking global leading companies, local market reach, and global connectedness.

Sharjah also features in the Top 15 rankings for both the Knowledge and Performance categories. The Knowledge category assesses innovation through research and patent activity, while the Performance category evaluates the size and success of an ecosystem based on the tech startup value generated from exits and funding.

Sharjah’s success is attributed to factors such as the emirate’s strategic location, the incredible $1.5 billion annual investment in education, its six Free Zones and 33 industrial zones, as well as the Sharjah Investors Services Centre (SAEED), which helps investors and entrepreneurs set up their business in the emirate.

Commenting on the announcement, Sheraa’s Vice Chairperson, Najla Al Midfa said, “Sharjah's rise to the 4th in the GCC and 7th best ecosystem in MENA reflects our unwavering commitment to harnessing the transformative power of entrepreneurship. By nurturing homegrown talent and ventures, and partnering with stakeholders across the ecosystem, we have cultivated a founder-focused environment where innovative early-stage ventures thrive with access to essential talent, capital, and markets. As we look ahead, we are excited to scale our impact by further enhancing our startup’s offerings and driving growth in key sectors such as sustainability, edtech, advanced manufacturing, and the creative industries.”

The GSER, a comprehensive analysis drawing data from over 4.5 million companies across 300+ entrepreneurial innovation ecosystems globally, provides a detailed evaluation of the top startup hubs worldwide and regionally. Sharjah’s rise to the 7th position, two places above their standings in 2023, underscores the emirate’s dedication to nurturing a competitive and progressive startup ecosystem, as well as Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre’s (Sheraa) contributions to this success.

Having completed an incredible 8-year journey, Sheraa’s ecosystem today boasts a thriving community of over 500 founders and over 18,000 entrepreneurial youth. Sheraa’s inclusive entrepreneurial journey, which offers talent and capability building, world-class mentoring, start-up incubation and wide-ranging market access, has empowered over 180 startups who have an impressive 71 percent survival rate and have created over 1,900 jobs. These Sheraa-supported start-ups have raised over $171MM in capital and generated $248MM in revenue.

Moreover, Sheraa’s flagship event, the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF), is one of the region’s leading celebrations of entrepreneurial passion and ingenuity and has drawn 30,000+ global attendees since 2017.

In collating the data, Sheraa provided invaluable support, collaborating closely with Startup Genome to spotlight the emirate’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in the anticipated report. This strategic partnership proved to be instrumental in showcasing Sharjah’s strengths and positioning it on the global map as a premier destination for talent, startups, and investors alike.

With its impressive ranking, rapidly growing Ecosystem Value, and sectoral strengths, Sharjah has firmly established itself as a rising star in the MENA startup scene. This achievement sets the stage for continued success and innovation, as the emirate solidifies its reputation as a regional hub for entrepreneurial excellence, with Sheraa playing a noteworthy role in this trajectory.

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