Throughout the Middle East, a number of specialized business incubators and accelerators have emerged to help entrepreneurs and fledgling companies. Recently, an accelerator in the United Arab Emirates emerged to support companies focused on the sustainable tech industry. Another unique accelerator program was recently launched in Bahrain. This project was spearheaded by C5 Accelerate Limited, a technology investment firm based in London and Bahrain, and supported by Amazon Web Services, the Bahrain Economic Development Board, and Tamkeen, an angel investment firm located in Bahrain. The Cloud Accelerator is the first of its kind in the region and will work with startups throughout the Middle East and Africa.
The organizations behind the Cloud Accelerator envision the program driving growth in both the local and regional business ecosystems. C5 Accelerate and other supporters see the adoption of cloud technologies as a driving force in business development, and they plan on using the Cloud Accelerator to foster the rapid and effective adoption of these technologies. Cloud technologies offer several advantages over more traditional information technology (IT) infrastructures, especially in the Middle East, where reliance on such infrastructures can inhibit business growth. While the Cloud Accelerator will work with companies across the region, it maintains a special focus on startups whose goals align with those of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The major industry focus areas are manufacturing, technology, and financial services.
The Benefits of Participating in the Cloud Accelerator
The Cloud Accelerator plans to work closely with companies to provide a range of resources that will allow them to develop commercial strategies that rely on cloud-based technologies. Ultimately, the accelerator aims to create stronger companies capable of attracting investors with unique, cutting-edge products and services supported by the cloud. The first Cloud Accelerator cohort will consist of entrepreneurs from up to 10 businesses who will travel to Bahrain to work on their business plans for four months. During this time, the entrepreneurs will build strategic relationships with each other while participating in training in key strategy and business principles. In addition, they will receive direct mentorship from C5 Accelerate, as well as its extensive network of global business leaders. These leaders will provide support in the areas of venture funding, business services, and commercialization.
Cloud Accelerator participants will also receive support from Amazon Web Services (AWS). All participants have access to the company’s programs, including AWS Training and Certification, AWS Grants, and AWS Activate. In addition, participants can work with AWS developers to receive technology assistance.
The Cloud Accelerator will additionally connect participants to funding from a $100 million capital fund called the Gulf Technology Corporation, managed by C5. Participants who demonstrate significant progress over the course of their four months with the program will be eligible to receive investments from the fund.
Investing in the Economic Future of the Middle East
The chief executive officer of C5 Accelerate sees the Cloud Accelerator as an important factor in the push to support the nascent Middle Eastern startup ecosystem. So far, few companies in the region have taken full advantage of the cloud and its potential to meet the needs of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs. By providing companies with resources and tools to move to cloud-based platforms, the Cloud Accelerator aims to both increase economic development and drive innovation. Already, an AWS Activate pilot program has made Bahrain a center for entrepreneurial growth in the region. By bringing the Cloud Accelerator to Bahrain, C5 hopes to further capitalize on the top-notch human capital available in the country, as well as the local government’s commitment to supporting technology development. The launch of the Cloud Accelerator has the potential to further solidify Bahrain’s place as a regional center for innovation and economic growth.
AWS has expressed its excitement about supporting entrepreneurship in the Middle East, a region that has shown incredible drive and a passion for redefining industries ranging from financial services to communications. Through cloud-based technologies, companies can quickly and efficiently scale operations, making it an excellent option for entrepreneurs throughout the region. AWS is committed to helping regional companies realize their full potential and grow at a swift, yet sustainable rate.
According to the GCC, the technology sector in the Middle East is expected to grow by 10 percent each year over the next five years. This year, sector spending in the region reached $200 billion. While growth is evident, it is still hindered by high startup costs, limited access to funding, and regulatory barriers, as well as difficulties with attracting and retaining human capital. Bahrain has demonstrated a commitment to tearing down these barriers and fueling startup growth. The launch of the Cloud Accelerator is an important step toward giving entrepreneurs the tools they need to develop industry-defining technologies that will bring the Middle East front and center on the global innovation stage.