Led by regional tech veteran, Ned Jaroudi, 1776 aims to bring global startups to Dubai, promote regional startups to the world and help foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the public sector.
Dubai may be well known for its homegrown startups, but there is now a push to make the emirate an attractive base for global startups looking to scale up internationally. It was with this goal in mind that 1776 opened for business in the Dubai Future Accelerators last October.
1776 was formed in 2013 in Washington DC by Donna Harris and Evan Burfield. Both were veterans of a government programme called Startup America designed to boost entrepreneurship outside Silicon Valley.
They formed 1776 to create an ecosystem that would tackle pressing challenges in areas such as healthcare, education, transport and energy. Their focus is not on creating the next dot-com, but on fostering innovation in highly regulated industries where it can be very difficult to innovate and scale up.
1776 describes itself as a global innovation platform, connecting startups, mentors and institutions. It offers co-working spaces (in Dubai and thee US cities) and operates a seed fund, but the core of its offering is Union, a software platform that hosts a range of resources of value to startups. By April, around 4000 startups across the world are expected to be using Union.
1776’s establishment in Dubai came about as a partnership with the government of Dubai, through its Dubai Future Foundation. Leading 1776 in the Middle East as managing director is Ned Jaroudi, a 20-year veteran of the regional ICT industry. Jaroudi says that 1776’s partnership with the government of Dubai has four key objectives.
One is to provide advice and counsel to the government of Dubai, particularly in the areas of policy and regulation and how that contributes to making Dubai a more startup-friendly city.
A second goal of the partnership, and a crucial one from Dubai’s perspective, is to bring the best international startups to Dubai, help them matchmake and network, and ultimately establish businesses in the emirate.