Startups driving AI innovation, VC Funding and the Indian-UAE technology ties key highlights on Day 2
AI is booming, and startups are at the heart of this revolution. OpenAI triggered the current AI phenomenon when it launched ChatGPT in November last year. Today, generative AI has the potential to generate up to $4.4 trillion in value across industries.
Expand North Star (ENS) hosted AI Monday today to showcase over 400 AI- infused startups. Moreover, AI was a common theme across all the conference tracks.
A panel discussion titled “Generative AI Market Map worth $98 Billion: VCs Hungry for Startups in AI & DeepTech: Overhyped or the Next Frontier?” discussed how AI startup innovations are transforming the enterprise. The session was moderated by Aly Madhavji, Managing Partner, Blockchain Founders Fund.
During the session, the panelists discussed challenges for early-stage startups and what due diligence is required of them as they grow. Dhianu Das, Founder, Agility Ventures, India, Dan Bowyer, Partner, SuperSeed VC, UK and Chirag Gupta, Managing Partner, 8X Ventures, India, noted that a challenging macro environment and tighter spending are pushing companies to reduce costs. To address these pain points, organisations are turning to AI has proved invaluable in helping businesses streamline operations. “Eventually, every business will be an AI business. This demonstrates how transformative AI is. To me, AI is this generation’s internet moment,” said Bowyer.
UAE, Saudi, Lead MENA Fundraising
According to the Q3 2023 MENA Venture Investment Premium Report by startup data platform MAGNiTT, MENA venture funding in the third quarter saw $250M raised across 78 deals, a 32% increase compared to Q2 of 2023. This contributed to $1.4 billion raised through 286 transactions in the first nine months of 2023. Saudi Arabia and UAE led the region in capital raised, with the Kingdom reporting a 172% QoQ increase. Conversely, the Emirates registered a 55% upswing in new funding. By the number of transactions, UAE has seen the most activity, capturing a third of all deals closed in MENA for the first nine months of 2023.
Speaking at Expand North Star AI Monday, MAGNiTT Founder and CEO Philip Bahoshy , attributed to Q3 performance to a series of mega deals ($100 million plus investment deals) across the region. In a media note ahead of the report’s launch, Baloshy noted the rise in new VC funds. In MENA, UAE’s Chimera Capital and Aliph Capital have launched new funds, and in Saudi Arabia IMPACT46 and KAUST have raised funds to deploy in local startups. “We’ll be keenly tracking the pace at which this dry powder translates into investments. In fact, investment activity in Q4’23 will be a good indicator of the strength of 2024’s VC landscape.”
India in the Spotlight as India-UAE Links Deepen
Expand North Star 2023 hosts the largest gathering of Indian startups ever outside India. As India and the UAE continue to strengthen their already solid economic ties, there’s growing interest among India’s tech titans for the UAE’s emerging digital economy. A panel comprising some of India-origin most successful entrepreneurs discussed what the evolving India-UAE story means for startups and the next logical steps for startups from the sub-continent to establish themselves in the Arab world’s second-largest economy.
Rohit Chennamaneni, Founder, Darwinbox, Abhiraj Singh Bhal, Co-Founder & CEO of Urban Company, Amit Zutshi, Founder and Managing Partner of Morphosis Venture Capital Limited, Ramakant Sharma, Founder, LivSpace collectively discussed scaling across borders. They recommended a base revenue of at least $50 million before considering international expansion. To determine true product-market fit, it’s crucial for B2B companies, especially in enterprise technology, to have a strong presence and see through a renewal cycle, the audience heard.
According to the expert panelists, physical presence and local expertise, tailored to the region’s context, are highly effective in gaining a competitive edge. Ultimately, the core principles of B2C should remain consistent, but all other factors, including services, operating models, and initial go-to-market strategies, should be adapted for the specific market.
Hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy and organised by Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) Expand North Star marks its largest-ever edition this year, from 15-18 October 2023, at its new Dubai Harbour venue. The landmark global gathering welcomes over 1,800 startups across GITEX Global and Expand North Star from more than 100 countries. More than 1,000 investors with a combined total of over US$ 1 trillion under management are in Dubai, which is rapidly emerging as the heart of the world’s digital economy.