Published: Sep 10, 2018

New ADGM License for Tech Startups

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has announced a new “Tech Startup License” that gives startups the space, structure and support to develop their business model and prove their concept.

This new license:

  • Is for innovative technology startups that have the potential to scale
  • Is for dynamic founders and founding teams who get things done and have product traction or a prototype
  • Is for startups that support developing the UAE’s National Innovation Priority Sectors: Renewable Energy, Transport, Education, Health, Technology, Water, and Space)
  • Allows startups to register in ADGM without the need for physical office space
    • The startups have a variety of options such as (i) a registered office address from a corporate service provider (such as Al Tamimi), or (ii) a virtual office from a business centre, or (iii) space at the ADGM Innovation Centre (coming soon!)
  • Costs $700 per year
    • After the second year, the start-up reverts to ADGM’s regular licensing requirements
    • The startup has the option of converting into an operational private company (with $8,100 annual licensing fees) or into a holding company (a special purpose vehicle with $1,200 annual licensing fees)
  • Permits the startup to apply for up to four employee/residency visas (for the core members)


Why register your startup at ADGM under this license?

  • It is cost-efficient
  • It grants access to the long list of professional service providers (law firms, accountants, consultancies, finance companies etc.) that are partnering with ADGM to support startups and develop the UAE economy
  • It allows access to a supportive and nurturing ecosystem (mentors, incubators, accelerators, networking events)
  • ADGM allows for 100% foreign ownership – Entrepreneurs of all nationalities can apply for this license
  • ADGM is a common law jurisdiction
  • ADGM has a reputable and adaptive regulatory regime

This new license follows the UAE Cabinet decisions announced earlier in May and supports the UAE’s efforts to diversify the economy, encourage local innovation, and make the investment rules friendlier to small and medium enterprises. There is tremendous interest in this new license considering the large number of startup incubators, accelerators, financiers and professional service providers available in Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

ADGM is building on its experience in hosting fintech startups through its Fintech Regulatory Laboratory (Fintech RegLab). It is supporting fintech startups and helping foster innovation within the UAE financial services market for both new market entrants and existing financial institutions. ADGM’s long-term goal is to develop Abu Dhabi as the premier FinTech hub in the MENA region.

Al Tamimi & Company are experts on ADGM. Contact Hassan Al Jarrah and Nasouh Raslan for advice and assistance.