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Indian startups and venture capital firms are welcome to come to Bahrain and tap into the Kingdom’s thriving startups ecosystem, said John Kilmartin, Executive Director, ICT at the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).

The EDB Executive Director explained that Bahrain could use some scaling up from outside the Middle East, prompting the Kingdom to look to countries like India. In return, he said, Bahrain could give these overseas entities access to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market. “We are not only open to early-stage startups but will also help in scaling them. So the companies that have built their products or services in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai or other parts of India can access the market here in the GCC,” Kilmartin said. He also talked at length about how venture capital firms and startups can raise funding in Bahrain. A separate government fund for technology companies will be raised in the foreseeable future, he illustrated, adding: “We see three elements of funding that needs to be put in place — the government, availability of money in the early stages of a startup and encouraging angel investment, so that private investments can get made during the seed stage. We are also looking to attract and have VC investments in place.”

According to Kilmartin, because a large chunk of the Bahraini ecosystem is still in the early-stage, the country could use a new influx of investors including venture capital firms. Additionally, the EDB is also considering making it easier for overseas startups operating in Bahrain to raise funds, especially those companies that are more likely to have a permanent presence in the Kingdom.