The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the investment promotion agency for the Kingdom of Bahrain, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) – the Kerala government body for supporting technology startups in Kerala. The MoU aims to provide a framework for co-operation between the two authorities to promote innovation in their respective markets in the fields of FinTech, ICT and related emerging technologies. The signing took place in Dubai, where both parties were attending the 39th annual GITEX Technology Week.
A key focus of the MoU is to build business opportunities for each country’s startups in the other’s market. The scope of cooperation also includes the facilitation of delegation visits to Bahrain and India, as well as collaboration on knowledge exchange and best practice regarding:
- Education programmes and curricula, including facilitating and enhancing cooperation between relevant parties such as financial and technological institutions, universities and research institutions, technology experts, and government agencies
- Facilitating the development and growth of FinTech and ICT start-ups and centres via support from hubs such as Bahrain Fintech Bay, Brinc Batelco IoT Acceslerator, Flat6 Labs Bahrain, Brilliant Lab and KSUM Hub
- Exploration of innovation projects in areas such as digital and mobile payments, blockchain and distributed ledgers, big data, flexible platforms (API), AML, eKYC, and other emerging areas in FinTech and ICT
Dr. Saji Gopinath, KSUM CEO said: “Building a robust ecosystem where FinTech startups and IT firms can access and engage with critical soft infrastructure such as universities, financial institutions and government agencies will be a key enabler for growth and innovation in the FinTech and ICT sectors. These are priority areas for both Kerala and Bahrain, and we are immensely excited to build even further upon where we are already seeing incredible growth with this timely new partnership.”
Ms. Pakiza Abdulrahman, Manager of Business Development – Startup at the EDB said: “We are excited to partner with the Kerala Startup Mission to encourage greater collaboration between entrepreneurs and innovators in both countries. We have invested heavily in developing the required ecosystem that is essential for start-ups to grow and succeed. Supporting Bahraini startups to expand internationally is essential to our journey.”
Bahrain and India have enjoyed commercial ties for thousands of years with trade currently standing at some $1.3 billion. FinTech and ICT are already a key focus for collaboration between the two countries, with a similar MoU signed by the EDB and the Government of Maharashtra last year. Indian cryptocurrency exchange Belfrics is one of several FinTechs testing innovative technologies in Bahrain’s regulatory sandbox, and in the first half of 2019 alone, eight new projects in Bahrain’s ICT sector were started by Indian companies – more than any other country – bringing investments worth more than $3 million. This longstanding relationship was brought to new heights in August with the state visit to Bahrain by Narendra Modi – the first ever visit to the Kingdom by an Indian Prime Minister.