By Danielle Lobo
Danielle practises corporate and commercial law and has considerable experience in a wide range of corporate matters including private equity transactions, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, restructurings and reorganisations. She advises vendors, trade purchasers and management on both the sale and purchase of companies, as well as on private equity investments, including the funding of start-up companies. Danielle is a member of the Law Society of Scotland. She holds an LLB (Hons.) from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
The Abu Dhabi Global Market (the ADGM) recently announced the launch of a commercial licence specifically catered towards tech start-ups that allows entrepreneurs to obtain an operational licence in the ADGM and access to a Professional Services Support Programme aimed at allowing entrepreneurs entry to a community of businesses, financial services and professional advisers.
The licence is available to entrepreneurs of all nationalities floating technology driven start-ups with scalable innovative business concepts that can be deployed in the UAE and contribute to the development of the local economy. Demonstrable evidence of the progress of such technology (such as a prototype or market traction) will be required along with a clearly defined business plan with relevant forecasts.
Registering under the licence offers the following benefits:
- a fully operational commercial licence for two years;
- annual fee of US$700 (as opposed to the US$10,300 initial registration fee and US$8,100 annual renewal fee ordinarily applicable);
- registration with a virtual office address (business centre or agent/advisor registered address) or physical working space (micro-office);
- access to ADGM’s Professional Services Support Programme; and
- the option to obtain up to four employee visas.
The registration process remains the same as the current online procedure used for ordinary commercial licences (involving submission of an application form and business plan, initial screening and pre-approval, final approval and issuance of license after registration and incorporation). After two years, if the start-up is able to show progress such as revenue or a sufficient level of investments, it will either be converted to a traditional operational entity on normal licence terms or a holding company.
The Professional Services Support Programme is a unique partnership between the ADGM and leading local and international advisers, established to help entrepreneurs enhance the scalability of their ventures, build business skills and provide guidance in the fields of accounting, compliance, finance, legal and VAT.
These developments come on the back of a number of initiatives by the ADGM to address set-up costs, access to funding and business support for start-ups (such as the FinTech RegLab programme). They are also in line with the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy to make the UAE a more attractive base for new businesses and ultimately promote economic diversification, foster growth and stimulate the region’s innovation environment.
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