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500 Startups hires former Dubai Future Foundation executive Vera Futorjanski as Innovation Director for MENA

500 Startups, one of the leading early-stage investors in the world has announced the appointment of former Rocket Internet entrepreneur Vera Futorjanski as Director of Innovation and Partnerships for MENA and Russia. 500 Startups has a dedicated $30 million fund in MENA that has been one of the most active seed-stage investors in the region, having made investments in tens of startups during the last few years.

Vera before joining 500 Startups was serving as Head of Global Communications at the Dubai Future Foundation, Office of the Prime Minister of the UAE. She was also a founding team member of Dubai Future Accelerators and was involved in bringing innovative companies to Dubai and pairing them with government entities to accelerate innovation.

She also worked with Rocket Internet for about three years in different roles including and was the founder of Rocket Internet’s beauty and wellness Vaniday in UAE.

In her new role with 500 Startups, Vera will be scouting startups esp. those that solve challenges particular to governments or corporates and help them with access to potential clients and investors. She will be looking for startups all across the globe as 500 apart from its region-specific programs also runs a global accelerator. She will work with corporates to launch custom accelerators and also run educational programs for executives.

Speaking about joining 500 Startup, she said, “I am honored and excited to join 500 Startups. It is a company that strongly aligns with my values. 500’s mission to build thriving ecosystems globally, and especially in the emerging markets, is at the core of my personal driving force. I am looking forward to working with governments, corporates and startups from the region and together ensuring we not only become future-proof, but also cultivate an innovation mindset, share knowledge, and develop new technologies that can solve challenges in the regions and globally.”

Sharif El Badawi, Managing Partner for 500 Startups MENA, also commented on the occasion, “We are fortunate to have someone of Vera Futorjanski’s caliber and experience join us to lead 500’s efforts in government and corporate innovation in these regions,” said  “We are at a significant moment for our company to take advantage of the market opportunities ahead and to diversify our services. Vera brings the skills we need and has a proven track record of execution, having until recently worked for the Dubai Government, and as a founder of a startup prior to that.”

Vera is also an angel investor with investments in different startups including NeuroNation, a Berlin-based HealthTech that focuses on brain and mind training.

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