European platform B-Hive to help develop fintech ecosystem in Qatar

26 November 2018

In the latest in recent series of regional fintech agreements, the Qatar Financial Centre has signed a deal with European collaborative platform B-Hive to help develop the fintech innovation ecosystem in the country.

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has brought on board B-Hive, a Brussels-based European community of industry collaborators, to help boost its financial technology credentials – with the two parties signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the mutual promotion of business opportunities and knowledge sharing between jurisdictions. The move comes as the states of the GCC race to establish themselves as world-class global fintech hubs.

In respect to the involvement of the tier-one consulting sector, so far this year the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) has signed an agreement with Accenture to foster greater innovation at its FinTech Hive accelerator, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) tapped Deloitte to help build a fintech ecosystem in Riyadh, and KPMG is extending its Digital Village concept to the region in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Global Market. Earlier this year, Roland Berger joined Bahrain’s Fintech Bay as a founding partner, as well as for its recently launched Islamic fintech centre.

“Our MoU with B-Hive is a reflection of our commitment to financial innovation in the financial sector and will undoubtedly contribute to developing the growing FinTech industry in Qatar, while leveraging the sizable investment opportunities available in this sector,” said QFC CEO Yousuf Mohammed Al Jaida, who signed the deal with his B-Hive chief executive counterpart and Managing Partner Wim De Waele.European platform B-Hive to help develop fintech ecosystem in QatarBringing together major banks and financial services players with tech companies for the co-creation of innovative industry solutions, B-Hive counts the likes of strategy and management firms McKinsey & Company, Roland Berger and Strategy& among its range of associate partners (organisations which contribute to B-Hive’s knowledge network), along with Capgemini and KPMG. To Date, in addition to its Brussels base, B-Hive has established further international hubs in London, Tel Aviv and New York.

“B-Hive from the outset was designed to build bridges between the different innovative regions with a strong financial or technology sector. We are very pleased we can now extend that network to Qatar and look forward to the exchange of knowledge and jointly creating fintech business between the partners in the network,” De Waele said in response to the fresh regional agreement, with the DIFC’s Fintech Hive already featuring among the organisation’s international hub partners.

The MoU according to B-Hive and the QFC covers mutual co-operation in several areas such as knowledge sharing and keeping abreast of trends in respect to technologies and legislation, engaging with regulatory bodies, start-up support institutions and financial services companies, the development of training and talent programmes, and the possibility to explore potential joint projects and further business opportunities.

“We are witnessing a steady uptake of FinTech businesses in the Middle East, with the number of FinTech startups soaring to 105, from 46 between 2013 and 2015,” Henk Hoogendoorn, Managing Director, Financial Sector Office for QFC said at a recent panel discussion, with expectations that number will grow to 250 by 2020. “About eighty per cent of FinTech is non-regulated so we can start working on important themes such as cyber security, data analytics, digital access and a cashless FIFA 2022.”

A recent report on the general digital entrepreneurial landscape in the GCC and Egypt by McKinsey & Company pegged the current rate of overall digital realisation in the region at just 8 percent of its potential (a gap worth around $95 billion per annum to the collective Middle Eastern GDP), with Qatar noted as has having the least digital contribution to its GDP at just 0.4 percent – as compared to 8 percent in Bahrain and the regional average of 4.1 percent.

Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in Dubai

18 April 2019

The Middle East branch of international construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has launched a new innovation hub in Dubai

Following the appointment of ex-Ramboll exec Abdulmajid Karanouhas as its Head of Interdisciplinary Design & Innovation earlier this year to spearhead the firm’s R&D drive in the Middle East, the local branch of German-origin construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has now launched a new innovation hub in Dubai – designed as a collaborative environment to serve both external start-ups and its own employees.

“It has always been part of our corporate culture to promote our own ideas and initiatives,” said Drees & Sommer executive board member Steffen Szeidl. “Increasingly, digital transformation and our clients are calling for completely new and disruptive business models. The Innovation Centre is one of our responses to these challenges. All 3,200 staff members can upload their ideas virtually.”

According to Szeidl, from there, promising concepts and solutions addressing identified market gaps in areas such as planning, construction and operations will be developed, funded and localised for any market which sees the potential. He continues: “Adding the Dubai innovation hub emphasises our status as a global innovation company by being one of the few companies doing R&D in this region.”Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in DubaiLocally established in 2003, Drees & Sommer was founded close to 50 years ago in Stuttgart, since growing to include some 40 offices worldwide, with its global headcount of 3,200 professionals generating revenues upwards of $430 million in 2017. The firm’s offerings span the gamut of real estate and infrastructure requirements, delivered according to its ‘blue way’, which takes into account economic, functionality, and ecological aspects together.

This, for Drees & Sommer, is an important point in the regional context.  “There is a huge demand in this market for contextual solutions as most models and systems are imported from abroad with little to no adaptation to the local culture, economy, and environment,” explains Karanouh. “As a consequence of this approach, we are facing major challenges related to user-comfort, efficiency, manageability, durability, and overall sustainability and feasibility of the built environment in the region.”

Accordingly, the firm has tailored each of its innovation hubs rolled out so far across the world to drive specific initiatives. In Aachen, Germany’s ‘Silicon Valley’, for example, there is a focus on customised smart buildings, IoT product testing and cyber-security, while the firm’s Stuttgart hub focuses on start-ups and processes and its Berlin one on smart cities and smart quarters. The Netherlands hub meanwhile focuses on wellbeing and sustainable innovation.

Karanouh: “The innovation hub brings together specialists of various disciplines from across the industry as a single interdisciplinary team that advises clients from early feasibility studies all the way to operation and revitalisation of buildings to maximise comfort, efficiency, sustainability, return of investment and overall value. The platform allows for brainstorming ideas, identifying market gaps and needs, adapting existing solutions or/and developing new solutions tailored to the local market and environment.”