ADMS 2014: sustained support needed to bolster initial investments in start-ups


20 Nov 2014

H.E. Mohamed Al Ghanim: “MENA must generate innovation as well as investment”

H.E. Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, Director General, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, initiated the final day of Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2014 with a keynote speech that identified investment and business growth strategies for the Middle East. The speech stressed investment in people as a main driver of innovation, and cited twofour54 as a successful local talent incubator for all forms of media.

H.E. Mohamed Al Ghanim said: “Innovative financing strategies for new media can benefit from public-private partnerships. For example, the UAE Pedia performs a social function by generating local content while reinforcing national pride”.

Following two days of discussions that tackled content creation and distribution channels, industry professionals gathered today for the final day of the Summit to mull financing solutions for an industry increasingly hungry for investments.

During a panel titled “The Future of Tech Investment – A Digital Feeding Frenzy”, moderator John Defterios, Emerging Market Editor, CNN, invited speakers to share insights on the sectors they believe hold the most promise for new media start-ups. Key issues discussed were the market perception that major players such as Google were content to let “new upstarts” lead the way in generating new technology, and the role of the public sector in supporting new business.

Ahmed El Alfi, Founder, Sawari Ventures, said: “in the current market, big companies such as Google have the luxury of waiting and let others work for them.” Chris Rogers, General Partner in Lumia Capital, cautioned that “we should not write off the major players in the connectivity field, as established companies like Google and Amazon were looking at new platforms and they may move back into the new devices market”.

The panellists agreed that one weakness in the MENA region was often a lack of sustained financial support to bolster initial successful investments in start-ups. Twofour54’s partnership with Etisalat and iMENA demonstrated how public-private partnerships could enable the development of “clusters” of local talent that could act as a focal point for new business.

Omar Al Mahmoud, CEO, ICT Fund, said: “we have to get away from a ‘show me the money’ mind-set and focus more on ‘show me the uses’ of new technologies”.

Emphasising the vast opportunities available in the Arab world, Walid Hanna, Managing Partner, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), said: “major international companies are looking at MENA and Arabic language services as very promising acquisition targets”.

The final day of ADMS continues into the afternoon with further discussions and workshops on successful deal-making, managing the rapid growth of start-ups, and financing future innovative projects of the media industry, before H.E. Noura Al Kaabi, Chief Executive Officer, twofour54, will bring the Summit to a close with a keynote address.

The full programme and list of speakers can be found on the ADMS 2014 website: www.admediasummit.com.

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