Microsoft for Startups’ ‘Highway to 100 Unicorns’ virtual conference set to empower UAE startup ecosystem


In partnership with ADIO, the startup-focused webinar series will be a powerhouse featuring keynotes, fireside chats and panel discussions covering trends, best practices, and stories from successful entrepreneurs.

Microsoft today launched its ‘Highway to 100 Unicorns’ virtual conference, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), to empower regional startup ecosystems across the Middle East, Turkey and Pakistan to connect, learn and grow with guidance from the best in their industry.

Part of Microsoft’s five-year strategic partnership with ADIO, the Highway to 100 Unicorns virtual conference will launch on 21 June and feature online events designed to accelerate the startup ecosystem in the country. Keynotes, fireside chats, panel discussions and workshops hosted by Microsoft, ADIO and 100+ regional and global speakers, will cover the most pressing issues faced by startups, investors and other entrepreneurship stakeholders, and provide guidance to overcome them. The virtual conference will enhance Abu Dhabi’s continuous efforts to provide startups with the resources they need to succeed.

“Together with ADIO, we are committed to strengthen the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem. Highway to 100 Unicorns enables startups and innovators across the entire region to connect, learn, scale and grow,” said Roberto Croci, Managing Director Microsoft for Startups MEA. “Startups need continued mentoring across everything they do, and that’s exactly what this program is about. Through Highway to 100 Unicorns, entrepreneurs will hear from industry thought leaders on emerging trends, insights, best practices, as well as success stories from regional entrepreneurs. This will empower them to better craft their growth journeys and potentially become the next unicorn in their industries.”

The ‘Highway to 100 Unicorns’ series will be a powerhouse of several tracks spread over three weeks, starting with Opening Day, then moving on to Investor Day, Accessibility Day, Tech Day, Founders Day, Corporates Day, Go-To-Market Day, Government Day and Ecosystems Day.

Key speakers will include H.E. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs; H.E. Dr Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO; Sayed Hashish, General Manager of Microsoft UAE; Roberto Croci, Managing Director of Microsoft for Startups; Tamara Steffens, Managing Director at M12 – Microsoft’s Venture Fund, Jeff Ma, VP, Startups at Microsoft; Courtney Powell, COO at 500 Startups; Maria Paula Oliveira, CIO, MENA, at Ernst & Young; Asad ur Rehman, Director of Media and Digital Transformation, Unilever MENA; Kai Ling Ting, Innovation Lead at Etihad Group; Iba Masood, Co-founder and CEO at Tara.AI; and Priya Rajan, Managing Director at Silicon Valley Bank

“The UAE is one of the best places in the region to do business, with the capital, Abu Dhabi, paving the way when it comes to nurturing a safe and enabling environment for startups,” said H.E. Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO. “Central to ADIO’s mission is ensuring that innovative ideas are given room to grow and thrive. Our work with Microsoft on dynamic entrepreneurship-focused initiatives is evidence of our commitment to enrich Abu Dhabi’s talent pool and provide startups with the spectrum of support they need to de-risk their critical early stages and build truly transformative businesses.”

Highway to 100 Unicorns will also serve as a gateway for high-potential startups to participate in other Microsoft-ADIO initiatives such as the GrowthX Accelerator, which is designed to bridge the gap between B2B tech startups and corporates in the region, and more. To register for Highway to 100 Unicorns, or to learn more, click here.

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