MUSCAT The number of start-ups in Information Technology Authority’s (ITA) Sas incubator programme will increase from the current 15 to 60 by the end of 2015, ITA Director General of Digital Society Development Fahad Sultan Al Abri told Oman Tribune, on Tuesday.

He said the start-ups can be wholly owned by Omanis or can have foreign partners with maximum of 49 per cent stake, while speaking on the sidelines of a networking event at Knowledge Oasis Muscat, where US Ambassador to Oman Her Excellency Greta Holtz and CEO of ITA Dr Salim Ruzaiqi, were guests of honour.

Abri said the Al Rafd fund can finance each start up with 50,000 rials, while Sas helps them in aspects like project management, contract negotiations and legal expertise. The maximum period a start-up can spend in the incubator is three years. He said foreign partners are expected to bring expertise and technology and the market will be local or regional.

Ruzaiqi said, “There is no shortage of funds, we want mature companies to set up business here and help start-ups become bigger.”

He said the start ups were growing and were working in businesses like video production, mobile apps, geographic information systems and integration. The incubator programme, he said, had also tied up with institutions like SQU, Higher College of Technology and University of Nizwa.

Chairman of OABC Ali Daud, one of the organisers of the event, said they will sponsor membership for 13 SMEs from the Sas incubator in OABC for one year.

“I believe this period will be beneficial for both the SMEs and current OABC members, who will get a chance to meet local talent and appreciate the services they provide.” he said.

The entrepreneurs will also get a chance to meet senior management from well-known local and multinational companies, he added.

Abri said the start-ups currently in the incubator were doing well and KI Bros Production, which is into film making, 3D animation, sound effects had doubled its income.

CEO of KI Bros Yasir Al Kiyumi said they had learnt everything by themselves and had completed 20 projects, were working on one and had three prospects.

Akkasa Production creative director Abdulrahim Al Kindi said they had stood second globally in the digital media category of Microsoft Imagine Cup and since then produced short films, documentaries and TV commercials. Sas, he said, offers consultation and introduces them to clients. Their aim is to make a future film.

CEO of SkyCloud Solutions Ahmed Al Shibli said they were developing a digital payment platform where clients will not need credit cards or a bank account, but things were still at an early stage.