The economies of the Middle East are going through a period of great transition. Over the last few years, most countries in the region have sought to diversify their economies in a variety of sectors, such as financial services, travel and tourism, energy, and logistics.
At the heart of many of these efforts is a focus on innovation driven by technology. Education and research and development investment have been pillars of a strategy geared towards enhancing technological innovation. For example, the UAE Government declared 2015 the “Year of Innovation” and announced a new National Innovation Strategy, with the aim of becoming one among the most innovative nations in the world. The talent pool continues to grow, both through local development and also through attraction from outside the region.
Although it’s still early in the process, there are already many examples of innovation in action and positive signs for the future. We’ve seen extensive infrastructure projects deploy smart grid technology, new mobility solutions, and data systems using blockchain technology, in addition to numerous instances of advanced applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning in a variety of sectors. Technology is being used in exciting ways to modernize economies, improve the everyday experience of consumers, and to help states become competitive on a global scale.
There also has been extensive investment in startups, both in the form of venture capital activity and incubation facilities.
At BCGDV, we’re optimistic about the future of technology and innovation in the Middle East and believe our venture-building expertise is a great complement to this burgeoning ecosystem. By working with corporate partners, we are able to maximize local knowledge and resources and combine them with our experience building market-shifting ventures in areas as diverse as mobility, industrial goods, consumer, insurance, and energy. Leveraging our experience with technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, and more, we’re perfectly positioned to help our corporate partners innovate to solve problems and build ventures that create sustainable value. While to date we have not made any equity investments in the region nor have any immediate plans to do so, we have already worked with various entities across sectors in the Middle East, and we are looking forward to engaging more still, with an approach that plays to our strengths while also proving compatible with priorities in the region.