Plug and Play-ADGM, the new Fintech accelerator in Abu Dhabi

Courtesy of PNP-ADGM.

Plug and Play (PNP) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) unveiled their calendar of their first Fintech cohort of start-ups.

Their program will kick off for start-ups on August 15 with a selection day. On September 16, the seven to eight selected start-ups will commence the three months program, which will run in parallel with AD Fintech Summit. The cohort members will show their results on the Demo Day on December 12.

PNP, the largest innovation platform and the most active VC in the world, is bringing to the partnership with ADGM their accelerator expertise supporting over 260 Fortune 500 size corporate partners. PnP model is a “non-equity program” to avoid limiting their scope to early start-ups.

Omeed Mehrinfar, the Plug And Play EMEA, said that ADGM is the ideal strategic alliance as the institution is an International Financial Center and a RegLab: “You need more than just a co-working space. Start-ups have to be complying with the region.”

He related the story of their founder, who moved from a Persian rugs seller to real state and got some interesting tenants at what was called the “Lucky Building”, where Google, Logitech, Paypal and Danger rented their space. He opened a little more about the non-equity program: “Don´t take equity from star-ups because you kill it. By giving them value, we discuss investment opportunities later.”

PNP-ADGM is the new FinTech accelerator added to the list of PnP around the world, with FinTech programs in Silicon Valley, New York, Paris, Frankfurt, Singapore, Jakarta, and Beijing. The seven current Fintech trends are AI & Chatbots, Cybersecurity, Blockchain, WealthTech, PFMs, Customer Loyalty, and RegTech. In their long term strategy, PNP-ADGM will consider expanding into other accelerator verticals on HealthCare, Transportation, and Smart City, as well as additional professional practices and services in Al Maryah Island, the financial free zone governed by ADGM.

The PNP-ADGM program is open to start-ups from anywhere in the world but will also focus on empowering regional entrepreneurs. PNP will evaluate to invest into start-ups from the region, and Mr. Mehrinfar said PNP is also open to accept start-ups who participated in other accelerators too.

PNP operates in 28 locations and their start-ups benefit from their “global passport” to engage with corporate partners there. Mr Mehrinfar supported his presentation with some figures from the Paris-BNP Paribas program, in which 19 out of the 22 start-ups got POCs and nine of those 19 already moved in commercial agreements.

ADGM is the Abu Dhabi´s International Financial Center (IFC) established under English Common Law in October 2015. Deloitte has distinguished ADGM in their 44 cities Hub Review as the top Fintech Hub for MENA in the Connecting Global Fintech. Seamless Middle East has chosen ADGM as “Fintech Regulator of 2018”.

Richard Teng, CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority at ADGM, explained that Abu Dhabi is now the second Fintech Regulator in the world, between London and Singapore, and stated the prominent role of ADGM Fintech Innovation Centre as an ecosystem builder, but he made the point they do not invest directly in start-ups. “We are the fastest growing environment and we are creating value for the country”, Mr Teng said. Regarding the growing interest on cryptocurrencies and crypto assets, he was clear: “We are not speculators.”

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