Dubai SME Welcomes BITS Pilani to Its Network of Certified Business Incubators

Press release
Published October 17th, 2021 - 11:08 GMT
Dubai SME Welcomes BITS Pilani to Its Network of Certified Business Incubators
From the event.
Business incubators in universities helps to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship and prepares the youth for the future, says Abdul Baset Al Janahi

Dubai SME, the agency of Dubai Economy mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, has announced the launch of its latest certified business incubator at the BITS Pilani University in the Dubai International Academic City. The new facility will contribute to the strategic efforts of Dubai SME to transform national and private universities in Dubai into free economic and creative zones as envisioned in the Sixth Article of the Fifty Year Charter of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. 

The new business incubator seeks to provide students with an opportunity to transform their ideas and inventions into successful enterprises in various economic sectors, and develop their creativity and innovative thinking from an early age. 

Students registered in the business incubator will also be able to benefit from ‘Dubai Next,’ the first integrated digital platform for creative people of all nationalities in Dubai to float their ideas and  attract the required capital through crowdfunding. 

Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, said: “Ever since Dubai SME assumed the responsibility of leading innovation and entrepreneurship in the Emirate of Dubai, we have pursued well-studied strategies to support the entrepreneurship journey, promoted creative thinking and developed innovative products that solved the challenges faced by pioneering ideas and projects.”

The Business Incubators and Accelerators accreditation programme was launched by Dubai SME in 2017 to draw further support for innovative entrepreneurs and provide greater opportunities for investment in developing business leaders across varied industry sectors through monitoring, mentoring and shared work spaces.

BITS Pilani Dubai has also become part of the Dubai Business Incubator Network (DBIN) supervised by Dubai SME to co-ordinate the implementation of ideas and initiatives that are launched within the network. The network also serves to develop policies and operational plans, evaluate proposals and opportunities to support entrepreneurs in Dubai and work with government as well as private entities and educational institutions to promote startups.

Currently, the network has 15 business incubators, each specialised in varied sectors, such as Digital Technology & Robotics; Design; Sustainability in energy, water, construction, transportation and waste management; Retail; Investments & emerging projects, and other forms of innovation, in addition to incubators accredited in higher education institutions and schools across Dubai.

Digital Technology and Robotics

Business incubators in this sector focus on the establishment and development of emerging companies in digital technology, in addition to a number of services for novice entrepreneurs in the information technology (IT) sector. Specialised training in basic skills related to the digital industry, such as digital marketing, programming, data science (Big Data), software design and business development is also provided.

Business incubators accredited in the Digital Technology & Robotics sector in Dubai so far include The Co-Dubai; Kind Incubator powered by Astrolabs;  Forward - Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT); Ztart-up; and one in the American University in Dubai (AUD) 


Business incubators in the design sector provided an integrated platform for creators, designers and entrepreneurs and support them with a package of specialized business development services in addition to business idea development programmes in the fields of interior design, graphic design, furniture, product design and supporting fields such as photography, 3D printing and animation. Re: Urban Studio in Dubai is the first business incubator accredited in the Design sector.

Sustainability in energy, water, building materials, transportation and waste treatment

The Bidayat business incubator in the Sustainable City is the first specialized incubator in this sector. It’s the first fully operational sustainable community in the Middle East, providing a smart ecosystem for creative entrepreneurs who believe in making cities more convenient to live in, and sustainable Project owners and startups in this incubator gain experience and get opportunities to connect with the competent authorities to develop sustainable societies. SMEs in Dubai thus get to participate in the sustainable development process, and also test their green initiatives in the Sustainable City. In addition, the incubator provides opportunities to conduct research and experiments on ideas before applying them, to ensure their effectiveness and success. 


The retail business incubators aim to develop innovative brands as well as adopt and invest in Emirati projects in the fields of fashion, jewellery, cosmetics, accessories, perfumes, shoes, and other luxury goods that are designed and made by Emiratis and Arabs. The incubators will help launch these projects and enable them grow and expand regionally and globally. TALG (The Arabian Luxury Group) is the first specialized business incubator in this sector.

Investments and emerging projects

Dubai SME launched a specialised business incubator for innovative British projects in cooperation with the British Centres for Business (BCB) in Dubai. The new incubator, as well as the partnership between Dubai SME and BCB, will contribute to strengthening Dubai as a destination for investment and entrepreneurship, regionally and internationally. It also underlines the attractiveness, competitiveness and advantages Dubai has in its business environment, legislative framework and infrastructure. The new business incubator provides support and expansion for British SMEs pursuing innovations in new and emerging sectors, including information technology, e-commerce, digital economy, digital marketing, operations and logistics, and smart applications.

Incubators in other sectors that support innovation

Incubators are accredited in many other sectors to promote entrepreneurship and innovation as well as to enable creative entrepreneurs transform their ideas into distinguished projects that serve the sustainable development process in Dubai. It contributes to building a knowledge-based and innovation-focussed economy, thus enhancing the emirate's economic position locally and regionally, and facilitating the process of reaching out to a larger segment of young entrepreneurs. The incubators also provide entrepreneurs with the required education and training, and also the tools necessary to establish a successful business in Dubai and expand beyond. The Co-Dubai and Forward - Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) are accredited business incubators in this sector.

University-level incubators

These incubators represent a qualitative initiative towards developing the infrastructure in educational institutions, encouraging young talents to think creatively and innovatively, providing youth with the necessary support at the early stage of their startups, and directing them towards future economic sectors in in line with strategic direction of the UAE. Besides BITS Pilani, the Higher Colleges of Technology, Amity University, and the American University in Dubai have accredited business incubators already and Dubai SME has received applications from a number of similar institutions.

School-level incubators

School-level incubators were launched largely inspired by the ‘Young Entrepreneur’ competition Dubai SME has been conducting during the past 15 years to provide opportunities for the younger generation to engage in the world of entrepreneurship. Schools present societal or school challenges among students and motivate them to find innovative solutions to address them. Furthermore, the schools will run a number of competitions throughout the year to select the best projects, and then nominate them for participation in the ‘Young Entrepreneur’ competition later. GEMS Modern Academy - Nad Al Sheba has the first accredited school-level business incubator in Dubai.

Al Janahi said the high demand for joining DBIN through accreditation confirms the success of the programme in finding opportunities and support for entrepreneurs. The programme contributes to stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship, encourages adoption of modern technology in vital and emerging sectors, and prepares the youth for the future through entrepreneurship.

“We are proud to be partners with BITS Pilani Dubai in supporting ambitious talents. Co-operation between government agencies and academic institutions is vital to moulding entrepreneurial talent in accordance with the global best practices in nurturing innovation,” added Al Janahi.

Professor Srinivasan Madapusi, Director, BITS Pilani Dubai, said universities need to make students market-ready by providing hands on training in technical as well as non-technical skills. Entrepreneurial skills are gaining importance not only for those who are interested in startups, but also in the corporate and industry sectors.  BITS Pilani with its vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem works in line with the vision of the UAE Government to encourage innovation and student start-ups, he added.

“Our Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship motivates students towards creative thinking and encourages them to work on innovative ideas. Courses such as Entrepreneurship, New venture Creation, Business Communication, and minor in Entrepreneurship have been offered over the years to develop the core competencies required to succeed as entrepreneurs.  Consequently, BITS Pilani alumni have been at the forefront in wealth creation through start-ups,” stated Professor Srinivasan. 

“Today our entrepreneurial ecosystem is taking a leap forward by joining the Dubai Business Incubator Network through our partnership with Dubai SME as a certified business incubator. This partnership will transform the university into an entrepreneurial hub by supporting students with access to mentors, business experts and legal advisors, thereby creating new opportunities for our student entrepreneurs to make significant contributions to the intellectual capital and wealth of Dubai and the UAE,” Professor Srinivasan concluded.

Established in 2000 , BITS Pilani Dubai is the only international branch of the famous Birla Institute of Technology and Science, the highest-ranked private university of technology in India. The university was also awarded a 5-star rating by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai in partnership with QS based on the four core categories of Research, Employment, Teaching and Internationalisation. BITS Pilani Dubai was among the top 100 universities in the QS BRICS University Rankings and also among the top 200 universities in the QS Asia University Rankings Asia 2021.

More than 5,000 students have graduated from the campus in Dubai, and they are either working in leading global firms such as, Microsoft, Oracle, Siemens, L&T, Emirates, Honeywell, Petrofac and Schlumberger, or pursuing post-graduation across premier universities, including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Cornell, Monash, and the National University of Singapore. BITS Pilani Dubai alumni have also excelled as entrepreneurs with more than 20 startups to their credit this year.

Background Information

Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Small and Medium Size Enterprises

In September 2009, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai issued Law No.23 of 2009 concerning the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Small and Medium Size Enterprises, recently renamed the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders. 

The law defines the goals of the establishment for strengthening Dubai’s position as a centre for entrepreneurship and allows for the setting up of projects which encourage entrepreneurship and the innovative ideas of youth. This move seeks to motivate youth to work, as well as to pursue economic activity, such as the development and organisation of programs and initiatives. 

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