Six days, six events, four competitions, and over 50 speakers celebrating the importance of the dynamic and creative startup community in Bahrain – that was the invitation that attracted more than 2,000 delegates to attend the first ever StartUp Bahrain Week this March.
At a time when technology is disrupting and transforming industries worldwide, innovative startups with high-growth potential have a major role to play in accelerating economic growth and diversification, creating new jobs and fostering new skills to meet future needs. StartUp Bahrain Week was formulated as part of a broader strategy to foster a supportive ecosystem in which startups, corporates, investors and government are able to collaborate to unlock new industries and growth opportunities across the Kingdom.
The week-long community-led initiative was held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, supported by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and the StartUp Bahrain community, and held in strategic partnership with Tamkeen, the Kingdom’s Labour Fund.
StartUp Bahrain Week comes as part of Bahrain’s tireless efforts towards empowering its startup community, providing a perfect launch pad for ideas, products and services, and offering an ideal platform for their rollout and piloting.
From March 3-8, attendees of StartUp Bahrain Week were engaged in an impressive array of events and activities which saw almost USD $80,000 awarded to early-stage startups through hackathons and pitch competitions during StartUp Bahrain Week.
Major highlights included Bahrain’s first gaming conference, featuring developers from across the region, a startup bootcamp, where young entrepreneurs and startups were put through intensive training sessions on what it takes to succeed, and the Unbound Bahrain conference, in which 50+ local and regional startups showcased their offerings.
“We’re incredibly excited to be a part of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s emerging innovation ecosystem and the anchor event of the very first StartUp Bahrain Week,” said Daniel Seal, CEO, unbound. “I’m thrilled to have worked with the forward-thinking Bahrain Economic Development Board to create such a valuable moment for this game-changing region.”
Major corporate brands supported unbound’s first event in the region, including American Express, which co-hosted the HACK @ THE TRACK event with Angel Hack. Participants were asked to come up with an innovative payment solution within 24 hours, with the winners receiving $20,000. Further highlights included C5 Accelerate’s second Policy Hack with H.E Rasheed Mohamed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain on March 6. Held at C5’s offices in Fakhro Tower, the session addressed how technological innovation in finance, combined with effective regulation and supervision can expand the scope, scale and reach of financial services.
Alongside these events, leading international startup network, Thinkers & Doers, held its first conference in the region – Follow The Leaders, offering 400 attendees an authentic insight into Bahraini’s culture at the Heritage Houses in Muharraq, with the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture taking center stage. The impressive speaker list included, Alexandre Zapolsky, CEO and Co-Founder of Linagora, Mona Ataya, Founder and CEO of MumzWorld, Walid Faza, Partner and Investment Principal, Wamda Capital, Christian Kamayou, CEO, MyAfricanStartup, and many more.
StartUp Bahrain Week also saw the announcement of a notable new entrant into Bahrain’s startup ecosystem, with the launch of Flat6Labs Bahrain. The leading regional accelerator has partnered with Tamkeen to develop a programme leveraging the unique strengths of the Kingdom and is the latest in a fast-growing network of incubators and accelerators to be attracted to Bahrain.
Bahrain is already looking forward to welcoming everyone back in 2019. In the meantime, stay up to date with all things StartUp Bahrain by visiting its official website, http://startupbahrain.com/ , or finding @StartUpBahrain on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.