Techies back in town

September 11 - 17, 2019

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly Techies back in town

Bahrain’s growing start up scene is gearing up for the 2019 iteration of its Tech Week with events lined up to showcase the kingdom’s growing tech talent and further develop its regional presence in the space.

Hosted by the Bahrain Economic Development Board, the week will bring together technologists from across government, major international and regional private-sector entities as well as the region’s most exciting start-up talent. The event will exhibit opportunities for innovation and growth in the kingdom’s thriving technology sector while exploring how emerging digital trends are revolutionising industries across the GCC.

Bahrain’s tech scene is constantly evolving with significant changes in its landscape every month as the sector grows despite or perhaps because of a difficult economic climate in the region. However, the annual tech week gives companies a chance to network and gain international exposure and entrepreneurs get to develop their skills and get an idea as to potential market gaps where they can develop products and services.

On Sunday and Monday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is hosting a summit and start-up event at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention & Spa. Data giant AWS, a subsidiary of Amazon Inc opened its data centre in Bahrain in July, offering developers, start-ups and enterprises, as well as government, education, and non-profit organisations with a secure and reliable local platform to run their services.

The summit includes keynotes and breakout sessions, where delegates can learn about performance and operations of new AWS services and architectures. The keynote speaker is Teresa Carlson, founder and leader of AWS Worldwide Public Sector, who has helped change mind-sets of both individuals and organisations around the world, modernise policies at all levels of government and cultivate a 21st century global workforce equipped with the skillset necessary to leverage the full potential of the cloud to drive innovation.

On Monday, AWS will be hosting a start-up day where AWS technical experts, start-up founders and leading figures from the start-up community will offer entrepreneurs opinionated advice and recommendations for how to go from intellectual spark to MVP and beyond. It will also be an opportunity for current and aspiring FinTech founders to gauge whether AWS is the right fit for their product, by talking to others who have implemented it or are in the process of doing so.

Later in the day, at the Ritz Carlton, Bahrain, Tamkeen-funded Flat6Labs Bahrain will be hosting its Demo Day, where six start-ups in HealthTech, Artificial Intelligence, FoodTech, E-Services, EdTech and Online Recruitment will be pitching their products to potential investors to get that sweet seed or venture capital funding.

After regional start-up successes like Careem and local ones like Sinc, Telp and Stories Studio, there has been renewed interest especially amongst graduating students, who are rejecting traditional employment at blue chip firms to work at firms less than three years old.

Start-up ecosystems around the globe tend to build on the existing strengths of the business ecosystem they are in and/or non-tech local segments that are seeing significant growth, primarily due to the high capital requirements of venturing into high tech.

Bahrain is no different and the burgeoning real estate market is a prime target for rising Property Tech (PropTech) start-ups who can participate in HexGn’s Start-up Bootcamp from Sunday to Tuesday. The three-day affair caps off with a day summit, bringing together stakeholders to network and deliberate on new innovative uses of technology to augment the local and regional real estate market.

With something for every stripe of start-up enthusiast, the first half of the Bahraini Tech Week looks intriguing even if the shine surrounding start-ups has worn off in recent years with stories like Uber’s persistent lack of profit and big league failures like MoviePass, Juicero and Jawbone.

Learning from these failures and keeping some of the region’s well-known conservative approach to business and Bahrain’s key areas of success like finance, while still loosening the leash and exploring new technological opportunities may hold the key to the region’s future.

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