All About the New DIFC Innovation Licence

difc dubai

Are you looking for a Free Zone business licence that can offer you a wealth of opportunities for your startup? Fortunately, the brand-new DIFC Innovation Licence from the Dubai International Financial Centre is the DIFC company formation solution you’re desiring. We’ll have a closer look at what this new scheme entails and the steps to carry it out.


A brief overview of DIFC Company Regulations

While we have taken a deep-dive into the DIFC previously, the essential information about this Free Zone you should consider is that it’s one of the top ten financial centres in the world. It’s also the prime financial hub in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa (MEASA) region. The DIFC Companies Law serves as the regulatory framework for the Free Zone. 


Among the significant perks associated with operating out of the DIFC is the fact that it’s home to the DIFC Courts, a judiciary system operating under an English Common Law framework just like in the United Kingdom and the United States, in contrast to the Code Law system in the local Emirati judiciary. The DIFC also hosts a court of arbitration modelled after the rules at the London Courts of International Arbitration as well. It’s also home to the Nasdaq Dubai Stock Exchange, and the DIFC Wills Centre. 


When it comes to licences for companies in the DIFC in Dubai, there usually are two licence classes, regulated and unregulated that differ based on whether the activities require oversight from the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) or not. But what does the Innovation Licence entail? 


The DIFC Innovation Licence

The so-called “Innovation Licence” is best suited for technology firms, startups and entrepreneurs. The DIFC seeks to attract more entrepreneurship and creativity to the financial hub. It’s one of the initiatives part of the Dubai Future District that Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum announced earlier this year. The scheme offers subsidised commercial licencing options that start out at an annual DIFC company setup cost of 1,500 USD, or roughly £1,140.98


If you opt for one of these licences, you can enjoy attractive rates at any of the coworking spaces within the DIFC. Then, if you are an innovation firm, renting desk space offers a more rewarding outcome, as you can get up to four visas as part of the agreement. Then, should you need more than four visas, there are subsidies of up to 50 per cent for the rest of your employees.


What sectors could find this licence appealing? According to the official press release, Chief Business Development Officer Salmaan Jaffrey noted, “[t]he new DIFC Innovation License provides an important springboard for future economy pioneers to establish, upscale and future proof their business within the stable framework of a world leading global financial centre.” Other enterprises that could benefit from this new initiative are those in fintech, one of the areas experiencing demonstrable growth during the first half of 2020 despite the malaise associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 80 new firms in the space joined the DIFC roster during this time, making it home to more than half of the sector’s enterprises in the Middle East and North Africa region. 


Are you ready to join the over 2,500 firms already part of the DIFC?

If you would like to be part of the group of firms welcomed to the Dubai International Financial Centre with the DIFC Innovation Licence, our team of Free Zone company formation experts are ready to advise you on everything your need for a successful setup. If you would like to schedule your initial consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us today.


Written by
Adrian Oton
Adrian Oton
CEO, Europe Emirates Group


UAE Setup Guide

Free Trade Zones
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