The Access Sharjah Challenge, powered by Sheraa and in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth, empowers innovative, creative and tech-savvy startups to grow and push the boundaries of the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs).
The Access Sharjah Challenge was launched to support the United Nations Assembly’s declaration of 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.
Are you a startup in the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI)?
We want to know your solution
We challenge you to
reimagine how people
come together in one place
to belong in the moment
and truly connect with
Bring families, friends and coworkers
together at Al Mamsha Souks.
Cultural and Creative
The creative economy brings ideas, culture, art, knowledge, and
It is often referred to as the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) in an attempt to capture its versatility and ever evolving nature.
Audio Visual &
Visual arts &
Total Prize Pool
Two winning solutions.
Prize pool includes:
- $30,000 Cash Prize
- $50,000 towards a sponsored
implementation of your solution
- $20,000 towards business operations and setup support
- Connections to public and private
entities for business development
- Mentorship by Sheraa’s team of
experts and network of global mentors
- Media and PR coverage
We are looking to work with startups that have…
A ready solution with
at least initial traction
A passionate team, with at
least one full time founder
in the MENA region
- Team composition and experience
- Innovative tech-enabled solution
- Robustness of product
- Potential for significant impact
- Relevance to Sharjah, and UAE as a whole
- Relevance to the Challenge(s)
With the collective mission to support creative businesses
locally and in the
MENA region, the 2021 edition of the challenge has gathered an impress list
of strategic partners from UAE’s public and private sectors
The Access Sharjah Challenge is an annual initiative from Sheraa to support the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Sharjah by creating and facilitating opportunities for startups, corporate and government entities across various industries.
This year’s edition of the challenge is focused on the creative economy or the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI), in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Youth.
The UAE’s Cultural and Creative Industries consist of the ideation, creation, production, distribution, and dissemination of goods and services of creative expression and cultural preservation that generate and sustain socio-economic impact.
CCI is classified under six sectors:
Cultural and Natural Heritage
Visual Arts and Crafts
Performance and Celebration
Design and Creative Services
Books and Press
Audiovisual and Interactive Media
You must be a company or a start-up operating in one of the CCI sectors in the MENA region with at least one full-time founder. You must have carried out at least one successful project demonstrating your ability to implement a proof of concept of the solution that you are proposing for the challenge. References must be provided.
You can apply if your company meets the required criteria and have a relevant solution to address the opportunity presented by the challenge. You are encouraged to thoughtfully think about how to best utilize your resources and ours by applying to the challenge that is best suited for your company and your industry.
Deadline for applications is October 10th 2021. Please refer to the challenge timeline for details.
10 shortlisted companies will receive a suite of benefits including tailored workshops and pitch training ahead of pitch day at Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival 2021 in November.
Each winner receives USD 50,000, broken down as follows
$25,000 sponsored implementation of your solution
$15,000 Cash prize
$10,000 towards business operations and setup support
In addition to:
Connections to public and private entities for business development Mentorship by Sheraa’s team of experts and network of global mentors Media and PR coverage
If you are one of the two winners, your company and team must be ready to implement a proof of concept of your proposed solution in Sharjah between December 2021 and March 2022.
Main expectations: To implement a proof of concept of their proposed solution in Sharjah between December 2021 and March 2022. To ensure the solution is sustainable and scalable and can be replicated in the future.
Additional expectations: Setup your trade license out of a Sharjah free zone which is included in the prize pool. To hire at least one person in Sharjah to support the implementation of the proof of concept
No. You can be based anywhere in MENA. The challenge in fact can help you start a business or a branch of your business in the Emirate of Sharjah.
We recommend the founder(s) be based in Sharjah for the duration of the pilot/POC, which is typically 3 months. Alternatively, we recommend the winning company look to set up an office space (definition: utilize existing space in Sharjah via our office or hospitality partners) in Sharjah.
7-9th December at the World Conference on Creative Economy at EXPO 2020.
The company will own the Intellectual Property (IP) rights for the solutions created in response to the challenge statement(s). Think of this as an opportunity to bring your ideas to life in Sharjah.