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Access Sharjah Challenge to Target Creative Startups Across MENA

Offering an equity-free prize pool of $100,000, the competition aims to empower conscious entrepreneurs cultivating innovative solutions in the cultural and creative industries.

The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) has partnered with the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth to launch the Access Sharjah Challenge, which targets innovative and tech-savvy startups from across the MENA region operating in the following sectors: Cultural & Natural Heritage; Performance & Celebration; Visual Arts & Crafts; Audio Visual & Interactive Media; Design and Creative Services; and Books & Press.

With an equity-free prize pool of $100K, the competition strives to empower and support conscious entrepreneurs focused on cultivating innovative solutions in the Cultural and Creative Industries. At the same time, the initiative will help stimulate and drive economic diversification and sustainable development in the UAE.

Taking inspiration from the UN Assembly’s declaration of 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, the competition aims to support the region’s most promising startups by connecting generations of conscious entrepreneurs to Sharjah and the UAE at large, fortifying the country’s position as a prominent hub for innovation.

Startups that meet the following criteria are eligible to apply: the business generates revenue, has implemented at least one of their solutions and is headquartered in MENA.

The challenge offers grants up to $50,000 with $25,000 going towards an implementation contract with Alef Properties and Sharjah Museum spaces, $15,000 in cash and $10,000 for business setup support. Aside from the monetary support, startups will also benefit from operational business support services, mentoring from Sheraa’s team and mentor network as well as access to UAE’s impact-driven economy.

Applications are now open until October 10. Ten finalists will be shortlisted and afforded the opportunity to present their ideas on the global stage at the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF). The winners will be announced at the World Conference on Creative Economy (WCCE) at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Head to sheraa.ae/asc for more information and to apply.