At World Blockchain Summit in Dubai, we chatted to Elodie Robin, head of growth and strategy at Hub71, to hear insights into the innovative digital asset ecosystem thriving in Abu Dhabi.
Hub71, the global tech hub of the Abu Dhabi government, has made significant strides in supporting startups and entrepreneurs in this rapidly evolving sector. In this interview, Robin sheds light on the purpose of her visit, the growth of the digital asset ecosystem, and the unique value proposition that Abu Dhabi offers to digital asset companies.
Robin emphasises the importance of attracting potential funders and investors to the UAE while showcasing what Hub71 has to offer. The ambition is clear: to be a catalyst for the growth of this dynamic sector in the region.
The interview begins with Robin highlighting the surge in interest and applications from digital asset startups. The timing was impeccable as the global market experienced turbulence, leaving many founders grappling with regulatory challenges and the need for a supportive ecosystem.
Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), seized the opportunity to provide a secure and progressive regulatory environment. This strategy has already paid off, with over 700 applications and the recent onboarding of nine startups.
Hub71’s approach is to create a comprehensive ecosystem to nurture digital asset companies. This journey began with the regulators, a fundamental aspect of the sector, ensuring that all operations are legally sound. Robin explains how they worked to prevent any regulatory hurdles while exploring technologies like blockchain and web3 to disrupt traditional corporate giants.
One of the unique aspects of the digital asset sector is its community mindset. Founders in this space are often pioneering ground-breaking technologies, and support from the community is crucial. Hub71’s approach is holistic, bringing regulators, banks and technology partners on board, creating a diverse network of support. This strategy has led to partnerships with national banks, blockchain solutions, and cryptocurrency exchanges, enhancing the region’s standing in the digital asset landscape.
The conversation also touches on the importance of companies committed to Abu Dhabi’s vision. Hub71 doesn’t merely seek to fund companies but to ensure their long-term success and alignment with the ecosystem’s goals. The focus is on creating a sustainable business case for startups, contributing to the growth of the region.
When it comes to the selection process, she acknowledges the challenge of reviewing 700 applications with a small team. To address this, they’ve designed a sophisticated selection process involving multiple rounds. These rounds assess various aspects, including the legitimacy of the company, its fit for the region, and its scalability. Crucially, the regulator is involved from the beginning, allowing companies to understand their regulatory requirements upfront.
Robin also points out the significance of due diligence, urging potential applicants to follow Hub71’s official application process, which ensures that their cases are reviewed following a structured approach.
When asked about the future of blockchain in the next three years, Robin shares her optimism. She believes that the challenging times the world faces have pushed people to return to basics, emphasising the importance of a product or service that people want to buy.
Abu Dhabi’s open, stable, and advanced economy, strategically located between emerging markets, has attracted considerable interest. The UAE’s management of the Covid-19 crisis has further highlighted its strengths, and as a result, the region is poised for growth in the digital asset sector.