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Searching for a Unicorn in the Middle East

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15 Oct 2019

For the second consecutive year, The Big 5 – the region’s largest construction event, will host local and international start-ups at its dedicated “Start-up City”, in partnership with CCC, Catalyst, and Wamda. Here, participating companies will present the most disruptive technologies that will shape the future of the construction industry.

Searching for a Unicorn in the Middle East

Experts have long pointed out that in a world where innovation and technology are more and more crucial to remain competitive, the construction sector is still a late technology adopter.

In such context, “Startups play a big role in digitizing the construction industry. They could finally support the construction industry to put an end to the expansion of construction schedules, the continuous increase in labor and material costs as well as improving quality and safety,” says Aref Boualwan, the Senior Manager Digital Transformation & Strategy at Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC).

The Big 5’s program is set to support brave, young, innovative companies from around the globe. Beyond providing a prime platform to promote their ideas and products in front of over 68,000 industry professionals, The Big 5 will donate a prize worth USD 25,000 to the most innovative start-up selected by a panel of judges through a competition.

A networking event with investors, alongside country pavilions participating in the program are among the new features to be launched at the Start-up City in 2019.

Josine Heijmans, Portfolio Director at dmg events, the organisers of The Big 5, says: “We are extremely proud to bring back The Big 5’s Start-up City this year, as an effective platform promoting innovative ideas and products that will help increase sustainability, efficiency, and productivity in the construction sector.”

According to Çınar Kurra, the CEO of Catalyst - a Masdar & BP Initiative, “Particularly promising are those new technologies that turn our buildings smart. Also, products that promote sustainability and help reduce waste or the use of petrochemicals and earth materials in the built environment have a great potential.

“With the introduction of 5G, construction companies will never have to run expensive copper network cables anymore. Material science is also offering a wealth of new solutions for improved insulation against heat, cold, and noise.”

The entrepreneurship ecosystem is gaining momentum year after year. Governments across the region are realizing the significance of creating support structures to nurture rising ideas locally and attract promising foreign startups. As a consequence, international and regional incubators, accelerators and startup support entities have recently been launched not only in the UAE but in most GCC countries.

“Across the region, investors are injecting more money with success stories of exits and acquisitions offering further trust in the great potentials at stake,” says Boualwan. “We hope to witness soon a construction technology startup highlighted as one of the unicorns founded in the Middle East.”

“We strongly believe that it is a must for a prominent event like The Big 5 to pave the way for Construction Technology Startups to showcase their solutions and gain the exposure to a huge audience of professionals from different backgrounds,” he adds.

In 2018, WakeCap, the IoT-based enterprise solution aimed at improving safety and productivity at the construction site, won the Start-up City Pitch Competition at The Big 5.

Ishita Sood Kochhar, co-founder and CEO of Wakecap, said: “The Big 5 Start-Up City Competition has been a great experience and I would really like to thank dmg events and the team organizing the Start-Up City initiative. This platform has been really encouraging; we have met with many suitable business partners and we have made a wealth of contacts to follow up with after the show.”

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, The Big 5 will run from 25 to 28 November 2019 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, alongside The Big 5 Heavy, Middle East Stone, Middle East Concrete, HVAC R Expo, the Urban Design & Landscape Expo, and The Big 5 Solar.

Beyond bringing to Dubai over 20,000 innovative products, the seven events under one roof will provide more than 220 complimentary high-level summits, practical seminars, and CPD-certified workshops to foster collaboration, support best practices, and offer effective solutions to today’s industry challenges.

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