DIFC Innovation License in Dubai : Complete Guide 2023

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    The DIFC innovation license in Dubai has become a focal point for global investors and tech visionaries. As the tech market experiences unprecedented growth worldwide, 

    Dubai, a city synonymous with innovation and futuristic visions, is strategically positioning itself as the epicentre of this technological transformation. 

    Recognized as a global business hub, Dubai offers a unique blend of state-of-the-art infrastructure, robust technological ecosystems, and a proactive government that champions digital advancements. The city’s ambition to be at the forefront of the tech startup industry is evident in its policies, investments, and initiatives aimed at fostering tech startups. 

    Furthermore, the UAE’s National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031 underscores the nation’s commitment to establishing itself as a global leader in technology by the end of this decade.    

    Steps to Start Tech Company with DIFC Innovation License in Dubai 

    If you’re considering setting up a tech company in Dubai, understanding the procedural steps is crucial. Here’s a detailed guide to help you navigate the process: 

    Deciding the Legal Structure 

     It’s essential to determine the most suitable legal structure for your business. The city offers three primary structures: 

    • Free Zone Companies: Ideal for those looking to retain 100% foreign ownership and operate within a specific zone tailored for businesses like theirs. 
    • Onshore Companies: Suitable for businesses aiming to operate directly within the UAE market and outside the free zones.  
    • Offshore Companies: These are non-resident companies ideal for international business operations, offering benefits like asset protection and confidentiality. 

    Choosing the Right Jurisdiction 

    Dubai boasts several jurisdictions, each catering to specific business needs. For tech and innovation companies, certain zones stand out: 

    • Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO): A globally recognized tech park, DSO offers state-of-the-art facilities and a conducive environment for tech innovations. 
    • Dubai Internet City (DIC): As the region’s leading tech hub, DIC houses many global IT giants and startups, making it a prime choice for AI ventures. 
    • Other Tech-centric Free Zones: Apart from DSO and DIC, zones like the Dubai Science Park and Dubai Knowledge Park also offer tailored facilities for tech companies. 

    Licensing and Registration 

    Acquiring the right DIFC innovation license in Dubai depends on the activities you want A license is pivotal for any tech start-up company in Dubai. The process involves: 

    • Identifying the License Type: Depending on your company’s activities, you might need a commercial, professional, or industrial license. 
    • Documentation: Ensure all required documents, such as business plans, passport copies, and application forms, are in order. 
    • Approval and Registration: Once the relevant authority approves your application, you can proceed with company registration. 

    Office Space and Infrastructure 

    The success of a tech company often hinges on its location and infrastructure. Considerations include: 

    • Proximity to Key Players: Being close to other tech companies can foster collaborations and partnerships. 
    • Facilities and Amenities: Modern office spaces equipped with high-speed internet, meeting rooms, and other essential amenities can boost productivity. 
    • Flexibility: Select the locations that offer scalability, allowing your company to expand seamlessly as it grows. 

    DIFC Innovation License

    The DIFC Innovation License in dubai is a new license that is specifically designed for start-ups and technology companies. The license offers several benefits, including a reduced license fee, a waived minimum capital requirement, and access to co-working space at a subsidized rate. 

    The DIFC Innovation License in dubai is available to companies that are developing innovative products or services in the field of AI or Web 3.0. To be eligible for the license, companies must have a minimum of three employees and a viable business plan. 

    The DIFC Innovation license in dubai offers education, access to capital sources, innovator and accelerator programs, mentorship from reputable financial institutions, cost-effective regulatory and operational permits, and mentorship from experienced financial organizations. 

     Lifestyle is another important motivator and deciding element for businesses to locate in our Center. 

    DIFC Innovation License Requirements 

    1. Non-regulated Activities 

    • The entity applying for this license cannot engage in any financial services. This includes activities such as financial advisory and arranging money services. 

    2. Physical Presence 

    3. Technology Provider 

    • The entity must be a provider of some form of technology. This could range from software solutions to Artificial Intelligence (AI), technology Research & Development (R&D), and blockchain technologies. The list of applicable business activities can be found on pages 8-9 of the document. 

    4. Tech-related Activities 

    • The business activities of the entity must be related to technology or innovation. The license is sector-agnostic, meaning it does not restrict the entity to a specific industry as long as the focus is on technology or innovation. 

    5. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs 

    • The entity is prohibited from conducting any activities related to cryptocurrencies, such as operating crypto exchanges. However, the entity is permitted to create Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), although it is not allowed to sell them. 

    6. E-commerce Limitations 

    • Under this license, the entity is allowed to engage in Technology R&D and operate as a Software House within an e-commerce platform. However, the entity is not permitted to engage in the trading or selling of products. 

    Applicable Business Activities with DIFC License in Dubai 

    Software House 

    Specializes in computer systems software design, implementation, operation, and maintenance. Focuses on analysing user problems and needs for economical solutions, including application software for smartphones and mobile devices. 

    Technology Research & Development 

    Specializes in studies, experimental and development research related to technology businesses. Aims for innovation, introduction, and improvement of products and procedures. Also includes setting guidelines for design, evaluation, and implementation techniques. 

    Information Technology Consultants 

    Provides technical services and consultancies related to information technology and applications like the Internet and data warehousing. Offers consultancies, proposes adequate software and conducts surveys and studies to determine appropriate technology. Note: These firms are not entitled to market or produce any software or products related to said technology. 

    Internet Consultancy 

    Specializes in strategizing the use of internet technology in commercial entities and laying out techniques for practical application. 

    IT Infrastructure 

    Specializes in laying the technical foundations of information technology, including networks, systems, and databases. Also involved in preparing consultative studies, installations of the network and systems, and manpower training. 


    Provides online services equipped with databases and programs fitted as a service with basic functions of the technology platform. Can also serve as a junction between a content provider and a user for a broad array of resources and services. 

    Computer Consultancies 

    Provides consultancy to enterprises and companies, prepares studies related to user needs concerning computer hardware and software, and offers solutions. This includes the choice of software and operation specifications, equipment, preparation of computer rooms, and tender documents. 

    Internet Content Provider 

    Specializes in providing internet sites with content and making them available for users. 

    When applying for a DIFC license, applicants should carefully evaluate the specific requirements, scope, and restrictions that each of these activities entails.  

    Given that Adam Global provides a wide range of professional services, including technology consulting and legal services, being aware of these permissible activities may be useful when advising clients who want to establish a presence in the DIFC

    Why Dubai is the Ideal Destination for Fintech and Startups  

    Dubai’s Vision for Tech 

    Dubai has a bold vision for tech, which is to become a global leader in innovation and technology adoption. The city is investing heavily in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and robotics, and is working to create an ecosystem that supports startups and entrepreneurs. 

    Dubai’s tech vision is outlined in several strategic initiatives, including: 

    • Dubai 10X: This initiative aims to put Dubai 10 years ahead of other cities in key areas such as technology, government services, healthcare, and education. 
    • Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030: This strategy aims to establish Dubai as a knowledge-based, sustainable, and innovation-centric global hub. 
    • UAE Innovation Strategy: This strategy aims to make the UAE one of the most innovative countries in the world by 2071. 
    • Dubai is already making significant progress in achieving its tech vision. The city is home to several world-class tech companies, including Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. It is also a major hub for startups and venture capital investment. 
    • In addition, Dubai is investing heavily in its digital infrastructure. The city has one of the fastest internet speeds in the world and is developing several smart city initiatives 

    Business-friendly Environment 

    Dubai’s reputation as a business-friendly destination is well-established. Several factors contribute to this: 

    • Ease of Doing Business: Streamlined processes for company registration, licensing, and operations make setting up a tech start-up company in Dubai straightforward. 
    • State-of-the-art Infrastructure: From world-class office spaces to cutting-edge tech parks, Dubai offers the best infrastructure to AI companies. 
    • Supportive Government Policies: The government’s proactive approach, with incentives, grants, and funding opportunities, encourages AI startups and businesses to flourish. 

    Growing Demand for Tech Solutions 

    The appetite for tech solutions in Dubai is insatiable. Various sectors are actively integrating tech to enhance efficiency, customer experience, and innovation. Key sectors include: 

    • Healthcare: AI-driven diagnostics, treatment planning, and patient management are revolutionizing Dubai’s healthcare landscape. 
    • Real Estate: Predictive analytics, virtual tours, and smart property management are some AI applications in this sector. 
    • Finance: AI-powered chatbots, fraud detection, and algorithmic trading are becoming commonplace in Dubai’s financial sector. 
    • Tourism: Personalized travel recommendations, AI-driven customer service, and smart hotel solutions are enhancing the tourist experience in Dubai. 

    Dubai’s strategic vision, business-friendly environment, and the growing demand for tech solutions make it the go-to destination for tech start-up companies. Whether you’re a startup or an established player, Dubai offers a fertile ground to sow the seeds of your ambitions. 

    About the DIFC 

    The DIFC connects regional markets to global economies and is one of the top financial centres in the world. 

     DIFC offers technology & innovation enterprises interested in creating or testing new, creative, or inventive products access to a bigger ecosystem of technology enablers as well as an established legal and regulatory framework. 

    The most advanced financial technology & innovation ecosystem in the area is found in DIFC. The DIFC is their preferred jurisdiction from which to expand their business in the MEASA region, home to more than 500 tech start-ups. 

    Why DIFC is Best for Tech Start-up Company Formation in Dubai 

    DIFC is the best place to form a tech startup company in Dubai for several reasons, including: 

    • Favorable regulatory environment: DIFC has a world-class regulatory environment that is specifically designed to support startups and innovation. The DIFC Innovation License, for example, is a special license that allows startups to operate in DIFC with several benefits, including reduced licensing fees, access to co-working spaces, and access to mentorship and support programs. 
    • Strong ecosystem for startups: DIFC is home to a thriving ecosystem for startups, including venture capital firms, accelerators, and incubators. This ecosystem provides startups with the resources and support they need to succeed. 
    • Access to global markets: DIFC is a global financial hub with connections to markets all over the world. This gives startups access to a large pool of potential customers and investors. 
    • Attractive tax regime: DIFC has a competitive tax regime that is beneficial for startups. For example, there is no corporate tax or income tax for businesses operating in DIFC. 

    In addition to these general benefits, DIFC also offers several specific benefits for tech startups, such as: 

    • Access to funding: DIFC is home to several venture capital firms and angel investors who are interested in investing in tech startups. 
    • Access to talent: DIFC is a global hub for talent, and startups have access to a large pool of skilled and experienced professionals. 
    • Access to technology: DIFC is home to several technology companies and research institutions. This gives startups access to the latest technologies and innovations. 

    Overall, DIFC is the best place to form a tech startup company in Dubai because it offers a favourable regulatory environment, a strong ecosystem for startups, access to global markets, and an attractive tax regime. 

    Here are some examples of successful tech startups that have been founded in DIFC: 

    • Careem: A ride-hailing company that was acquired by Uber in 2019. 
    • Souq: An e-commerce company that was acquired by Amazon in 2017. 
    • Noon: An e-commerce company that is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. 
    • Wizz Air Abu Dhabi: A low-cost airline that is a joint venture between Wizz Air and Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company. 
    • Xische: A digital logistics company that is backed by Tencent and Sequoia Capital. 

    These are just a few examples of the many successful tech startups that have been founded in DIFC. DIFC is a great place to start a tech startup company because it offers several advantages, including a favourable regulatory environment, a strong ecosystem for startups, and access to global markets. 


    Dubai isn’t just aiming to be a leader in technology and innovation; it’s well on its way to becoming a global tech powerhouse. With its visionary leadership, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and thriving business ecosystem, the city offers unparalleled opportunities for technology and innovation enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. 

    Don’t navigate this journey alone. Let Adam Global’s expert team guide you every step of the way. From understanding the nuances of finding a DIFC innovation license to the perfect office space, we’ve got you covered. Reach out to us today for personalized assistance and consultation. Your dream deserves the best, and we’re here to make it a reality. 

    Author Bio: Mr. Victor Murray, Business Consultant at Adam Global 

    Mr Victor Murray is a seasoned business consultant at Adam Global, renowned for his expertise in tech start-up companies with a DIFC innovation license. His proficiency extends to advising clients on making informed choices in philanthropy, particularly in selecting the right type of license. According to Victor, the choice between activities opted by companies largely depends on the issues and requirements of the industry. Whether it’s large-scale impact or community engagement, Victor’s insights are backed by years of experience and a comprehensive range of services offered by Adam Global. For personalized advice, Victor can be reached at +971 56 501 4164.