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Plug and Play Plans New Middle East Innovation Platform in Partnership with Abu Dhabi Global Market

The agreement by Silicon Valley accelerator Plug and Play and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is the latest sign that the hot MENA fintech sector is about to get a lot warmer. The new partnership calls for Plug and Play to open a new office in Abu Dhabi and bring some of its top fintech startups along to work with local FIs.

“We have already talked to close to 100 portfolio companies that we have investments in, (who) would like to come to the Middle East, implement their technologies with different banks, as well as perhaps raise money here and have a technical team here,” Plug and Play chief executive Saeed Amidi told The National late last month when the project was announced. The Abu Dhabi-based accelerator will be part of the new ADGM FinTech Innovation Centre – slated to open in 2018 – which will house ADGM’s RegLab fintech sandbox program.

“We are planning to bring to this fintech innovation platform 10 to 20 startups per year,” Amidi added, “say 10 in each batch; generally we (would) invest in half of those startups.” Accelerator programs would run for three months with the first cohort coming onboard in the third quarter of 2018.

A frequent Finovate event sponsor, Plug and Play has made the globalization of Silicon Valley one of its top goals in recent years. The accelerator has expanded from six satellite offices to 24 since 2015, and refers to their upcoming Abu Dhabi branch as “the latest addition to our global family.” In addition to helping connect local FIs with fintech startups and international banks, Plug and Play is hoping the initiative in Abu Dhabi will “generate POCs, commercial agreements, and investment opportunities” for startups and FIs.

“Through ADGM’s regional sphere of influence, we are able to empower startups and entrepreneurs to gain access to top-tier regulatory mentorship, whereby they can gain more ‘push-power’ in working with financial enterprises in the private sector,” explained Director of Plug and Play EMEA Omeed Mehrinfar.

Founded in 2006, the Sunnyvale, California-based innovation platform has invested and accelerated some of the most familiar names in technology such as Dropbox, SoundHound, and Zoosk, as well as Finovate alums like PayPal, Credit Sesame, and Lending Club. The firm has more than 6,000 startups and 180 official corporate partners, and provides active investments with 200 leading Silicon Valley VC. More than $6 billion has been invested in Plug and Play portfolio companies.