Convening over 400 AI-powered startups, Expand North Star (ENS) 2023 solidified its status as the world’s foremost startup event. ENS took place at the Dubai Harbor October 15-18, coinciding with GITEX Global, which was held at the Dubai World Trade Center.
AI and startups
Artificial intelligence (AI) has long been on the scene, but it was the release of ChatGPT in November 2022 that catapulted it into the mainstream. According to estimates, generative AI, in particular, could generate up to $4.4 trillion in value across various industries.
At the heart of the AI boom is the bustling startup scene. A third-quarter report from startup data platform MAGNiTT noted that Middle East and North Africa is leading the world in terms of venture funding. From July to September of this year, MENA raised $250 million across 78 deals. This marks a 32 percent increase compared to the preceding quarter.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE topped the region in capital raised. The two countries posted a 172 percent and 55 percent quarter-on-quarter increase in funding, respectively.
India, Africa and Asia in the spotlight
Indian startups notably took the spotlight at Expand North Star 2023, with the event hosting the biggest gathering of Indian startups outside of their home country. At ENS, successful entrepreneurs from India discussed the steps for establishing a presence in the Arab world’s second-largest economy.
According to a panel of experts, startups must aim for a base revenue of at least $50 million before undertaking global expansion. They further pointed out the need to determine product-market fit, understand local contexts and tailor strategies accordingly.
Apart from India, Africa was also in the limelight at ENS. DWTC, through its subsidiary KAOUN International, unveiled GITEX AFRICA. This highlights the continent’s growing importance in the global tech landscape, particularly digital health, agritech and smart manufacturing.
The African startup environment boasts a vast market of 1.4 billion potential consumers.
ENS also had a strong focus on Asia. Speakers at a panel discussion highlighted that challenges in Asian countries create great opportunities, particularly in areas like education, infrastructure and healthcare.
As countries witness the rapid evolution of the AI industry, Expand North Star 2023 also underscored the regulatory challenge that comes with balancing public trust, innovation and local competitiveness.
In one session, His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, shared one of the UAE’s efforts to address this. Recently, the UAE government teamed up with Oxford University to educate public officials on AI governance, system auditing and practical applications.
Moreover, Al Olama emphasized the need to tailor regulations according to the needs of every country. Nonetheless, he clarified that there should be an established baseline for AI regulation.
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