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Dubai Airshow 2021: UAE venture capital fund targets overseas SMEs

17th November 2021 - 08:45 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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SDF venture capital investments to date include Israeli short-wave IR sensor specialist TriEye. (Photo: TriEye)

The UAE Strategic Development Fund has money to invest in international start-ups.

Fresh from increasing its stake in autonomous systems firm Marakeb Technologies, the UAE Strategic Development Fund (SDF) on 16 November announced venture capital funding of AED551.2 million ($150 million) for various defence, security and aerospace SMEs in the country and overseas.

Abdulla Naser Al Jaabari, SDF MD and CEO, said: ‘We are targeting emerging companies in specific strategic sectors that have high growth potential and global scalability, especially in the markets of the UAE, the Middle East, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and other potential markets.’

He added that 85-90% of the latest venture funding would be invested directly into companies with the remainder earmarked for indirect investments that would support diversification and access to co-investment opportunities.

SDF — the investment division of the Tawazun defence procurement authority in the UAE — has already closed four deals worth around AED110 million, ‘including three direct and one indirect investment’, Al Jaabari noted.

The fund recently invested in HawkEye 360, a US company specialising in space-based RF data and geospatial analytics, and two Israeli firms: low-cost SATCOM company hiSky and TriEye, which provides complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor-based short-wave IR sensors.

‘It is expected that the Fund will close two additional investments by the end of this year, bringing the total Venture Capital investments to six with an expectation to deploy the remainder over the next 18-30 months,’ the SDF noted.

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