UAE based Param Labs, an independent Web3 Blockchain gaming and technology studio raises $7 million in strategic funding round led by Animoca Brands. Other investors included Delphi Ventures, Mechanism Capital, P2 ventures, Merit Circle, TRGC, MH Ventures, and UAE based Cypher Capital.

,Param Labs boasts a fairly robust online community. The company said it has more than 2.5 million followers on X across all its pages, in addition to 500,000 Discord users, according to a statement. The platform also has 300,000 daily active users, said Param Labs.

“This collaboration aligns with our shared vision to redefine the gaming landscape, ensuring that gamers are the true owners of their digital assets,” Animoca Brands co-founder and executive chairman Yat Siu said in the statement.

The availability of funds of this type will play a significant role in strengthening blockchain enabled Param Labs’ efforts to create a gaming world solely for native PARAM tokens. This supports the general mission to open the gates to the luminary members of the gaming world to own their assets.

Anthony Anderson, founder and CEO of Param Labs and Kiraverse, emphasized the importance of the strategic investment and partnership with Animoca Brands: “This investment marks a significant milestone for Param Labs’ ecosystem development and the broader Web3 gaming landscape. Our vision is aligned with that of Animoca Brands and we’re thrilled to collaborate on the creation of valuable products at the forefront of gaming’s innovative shift to digital ownership. With our new funding, we’ll continue to invest in building out and scaling our current products while also advancing our ecosystem initiatives and fostering community involvement.”

The investment in Param Labs announced today further expands the presence of Animoca Brands in MENA, following a partnership with NEOM to drive Web3 in the region, and with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology to establish a physical office and Web3 hub in Riyadh.

Param Labs aims to build a gaming ecosystem that will be governed by its native PARAM token, which will soon be launched, the company also said. The company’s first game, “Kiraverse,” is a play-to-earn, multiplayer shooter.

 UAE Web3 gamified digital assets startup Eesee, that allows users to place tiny bids on high-value assets such as cryptocurrencies, NFTs and real-world assets, has received an investment from Animoca Brands. As part of the partnership, Animoca Brands will provide its industry expertise and connections to Eeseee, bolstering Eesee’s goal to enhance the efficiency and experience of digital asset trading within the Web3 environment.

Eesee already has over 1.6 million wallets already on its testnet, Eesee has more than tripled its user base and volume since the start of 2024, and 31% of Eesee users engage in more than 10 transactions per day.

According to the press release, the partnership with Animoca Brands will advance Eesee’s mission to become a one-stop liquidity solution for sellers. With a growing community and over 2,000 tickets bought per day on the Eesee platform, the partnership with Animoca Brands will allow Eesee to reach a wider audience and strengthen its connections within the Web3 ecosystem through Animoca Brands’ portfolio of over 400 Web3 companies and projects.

Eesee previously raised over US$3 million in funding rounds from SevenX Ventures, Maven Capital, and Momentum 6, as well as through high-profile crypto influencers such as Ivan on Tech, Pentoshi Gmoney, and others.

Yat Siu, the co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, commented, “We’re excited about investing into Eesee and entering into a partnership that aligns strongly with the vision shared by both of our companies to bridge real-world assets into the Web3 landscape. We look forward to the progress and success of Eesee as the platform continues to grow and evolve.”

Vova Sadkov, founder and CEO of Eesee, added, “If it wasn’t amazing enough to see the Eesee journey so far, having Animoca Brands – one of the most important companies in the industry – not only as an investor but also a partner is the cherry on top. We’re thrilled to work closely with the team at Animoca Brands. It will bring tremendous value to our ecosystem.”

Eesee aims to provide the main features of the models of major auction platforms (e.g. eBay) and NFT marketplaces (e.g. Blur) with a twist, allowing users to place small bids on high-value real-life items as well as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The rest of the bids are converted into funds that are staked on the Eesee platform, and can offer a potential return for all bidders.

Eesee plans to launch later in 2024 on Blast, a layer 2 mainnet with native yield built on top of Ethereum, and which recently made headlines when its launch unlocked $2.3 billion of staked crypto for the first time.

This is not the first gaming startup in the UAE to receive investment from Animoca Brands. Animoca brands recently invested in UAE based Param Labs, a blockchain enabled gaming infrastructure provider.

Animoca brands, which offers digital property rights for games and open metaverse, continues to invest in gaming and Web3 start-ups in the MENA region. Its latest investment is with UAE based Param Labs, a blockchain enabled gaming infrastructure provider.

As per the press release, the investment will strengthen the two companies’ existing partnership to accelerate the development of Param Labs’ scalable blockchain enabled Web3 infrastructure and expand its ecosystem, which boasts over 50 IP partnerships with notable brands such as GameStop, Pudgy Penguins, Mocaverse, and more.

Param Labs is focused on developing video games and infrastructure to power the next generation of gaming. Kiraverse, the flagship Web3 multiplayer third-person shooter game developed by Param Labs, offers players the opportunity to compete, earn, and trade digital assets like characters and skins. Kiraverse is designed to promote digital ownership and user-generated value, leveraging Param Labs’ innovative technology.

Param Labs is also actively constructing technology to equip developers with the necessary tools they need to effortlessly elevate their users’ blockchain based experiences, ensuring seamless interaction for gamers across the globe. Additionally, its Pixel-to-Poly service enables users to transform 2D images into 3D playable in-game characters, compatible with Kiraverse as well as popular Web2 titles including Grand Theft Auto V and Fortnite.

With a strong focus on esports, Param Labs has also partnered with major esports organisations worldwide to promote Web3 ecosystem growth around gaming, and is gearing up for a token launch that will serve as an ecosystem token for its upcoming games and infrastructure.

Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, said, “We’re excited to invest in and partner with Param Labs to drive Web3 development in MENA and advance the cause of digital property rights in the open metaverse. Both Animoca Brands and Param Labs share a vision to redefine the gaming landscape and the open metaverse by leveraging the power of shared network effects.”

Anthony Anderson, founder and CEO of Param Labs and Kiraverse, emphasized the importance of the strategic investment and partnership with Animoca Brands: “This investment marks a significant milestone for Param Labs’ ecosystem development and the broader Web3 gaming landscape. Our vision is aligned with that of Animoca Brands and we’re thrilled to collaborate on the creation of valuable products at the forefront of gaming’s innovative shift to digital ownership. With our new funding, we’ll continue to invest in building out and scaling our current products while also advancing our ecosystem initiatives and fostering community involvement.”

This announcement comes after Animoca Brands just signed an agreement with KACST in Saudi Arabia to grow Web3 development in the country.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) during the LEAP 2024 event, signed an agreement with Animoca Brands to propel Blockchain and Web3 system in KSA. The agreement aims to facilitate the entrance of companies and institutions into the Web3 and blockchain ecosystem.

As per the agreement both entities will work to develop joint research and development projects in Blockchain applications, games, AI and metaverse development.

KACST has signed 13 partnerships at the event so far with one being a partnership with the Global Semiconductor Group focusing on the design of electronic chips.

KACST also signed a strategic partnership with Elm Company, to enhance cooperation in the field of future cities’ technologies and emerging technologies, in addition to its partnership with Tulip Technologies Company to enhance cooperation in research and development, and training in the field of robotics, AI, and automation.

Animoca brands has been expanding its presence in the MENA region, including KSA. Animoca Brands was one of the investors in Saudi’s first NFT marketplace platform, Nuqtah. Nuqtah raised a seed round of millions of dollars from Blockchain platform Polygon and Animoca Brands.

In addition, in October 2023, Metaverse creator Animoca Brands Corporation Limited announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“Strategic Partnership”) with NEOM Company (“NEOM”) to drive regional Web3 initiatives in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 plan. This came after NEOM investment fund signed a term sheet for $50 million investment in Animoca Brands.

In the UAE, Animoca Brands, early investors in The Sandbox, invested in UAE gaming startup Farcana, to advance digital property rights for gaming and the metaverse fueling Farcana’s beta launch and development within the Bitcoin Ecosystem with Free Mint Bitcoin ordinals.

Metaverse creator Animoca Brands Corporation Limited has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“Strategic Partnership”) with NEOM Company (“NEOM”) to drive regional Web3 initiatives in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 plan, after NEOM investment fund signed a term sheet for $50 million investment in Animoca Brands.

As per the Convertible Notes Financing Term Sheet (“Term Sheet”). NEOM Investment Fund is proposing to invest US$50 million in Animoca Brands, of which US$25 million will be via the issuance of convertible notes at a conversion cap price of A$4.50 per share, with substantively the same terms as the strategic funding round previously disclosed by the Company in the announcement of 8 September 2022; and the remaining US$25 million will be invested in purchasing the Company’s shares on the secondary market.

As part of the strategic relationship, Animoca Brands will work with NEOM on building Web3 enterprise service capabilities with global commercial applicability, which will be deployed to support technology advancements in Riyadh and the NEOM region. These projects will include a range of Web3 initiatives, including plans to establish a hub within NEOM to nurture the local Web3 ecosystem and bring in extensive capabilities from across Animoca Brands and its subsidiaries, partners, and broad portfolio of investments.

The execution of definitive documents for the Convertible Notes Financing are subject to a number of conditions precedent.

Majid Mufti, CEO of NEOM Investment Fund, commented: “We are excited to partner with Animoca Brands to support the development of NEOM’s digital infrastructure. Web3 technology and infrastructure development will not only be an important foundation of NEOM’s tech stack and architecture, but also has potential to revolutionize global industries. By partnering with a market-leading company like Animoca Brands, we hope to accelerate Web3 technology development and adoption.”

Yat Siu, the co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, commented: “We are honored and excited to partner with and receive investment from NEOM, one of the world’s most ambitious projects seeking to use innovation and technology to redefine how we live, work, and play. We have always referred to the growth of the Web3 ecosystem as the emergence of a new meta-nation, and now NEOM could well become the first region to fully harness the power of blockchain.”

NEOM has inaugurated its strategic investment arm, the NEOM Investment Fund (NIF), NEOM’s wholly owned subsidiary which is set up to support the buildout and development of NEOM’s 14 priority sectors of which technology and digital are an integral part.

NIF will invest globally through Mergers & Acquisitions and venture capital in technology startups, with a clear focus on pioneering growth companies and next-generation industries.  NIF will also develop Joint Ventures and partnerships with large multinationals, institutional investors and innovators within NEOM.

As part of its inauguration, NIF is announcing new investments in companies including, Regent, Boom Technology, BlueNalu and Animoca Brands, details of which will be shared in the coming days. These investments, which add to those NIF has led to date, illustrate its role working alongside NEOM sectors to support their strategies for growth, enabling new technologies, establishing businesses, and creating a thriving economy in NEOM.

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM said: “The vision of NEOM is to address global challenges that redefine livability, conservation and business. As NEOM’s strategic investment subsidiary, NIF will play a critical role in converting NEOM’s vision to reality. NIF will enable NEOM to sustain its contribution to realizing the ambitions of the Kingdom over the long term, cementing its position as a key driver of economic diversification and job creation.”

Majid Mufti, CEO of NEOM Investment Fund, said,“The NIF strategy is designed to align NEOM’s development objectives with those of innovators and institutional investors, de-risking opportunities for them to participate in creating core global growth businesses and a thriving economy in NEOM. To date, NIF has invested in several technology companies within the 14 priority sectors of NEOM that will accelerate technologies critical to the NEOM project and have a major impact on the future of living and sustainability. Replicated over time, this approach will position NEOM as a model for sustainable economic development.”

As a catalyst for change, NIF actively seeks deep partnerships with likeminded investors and bold entrepreneurs working on the world’s most complex problems, in line with NEOM’s vision. It aspires to create regional and global champion companies across NEOM’s 14 economic sectors by investing in commercially viable projects and ‘moonshot’ ideas enabled by cutting edge technologies. To accelerate the change, NIF will focus on developing investment opportunities for the private sector to participate in and will directly invest to unlock solutions that would be piloted and scaled-up in NEOM, and eventually exported to the world.

As part of its mandate, NIF will also be assuming the role of portfolio manager for NEOM’s sector assets and companies. This role will safeguard returns for the shareholder and investors through portfolio synergies and will underpin NEOM’s long-term financial sustainability.

The engine that will ignite a sustainable future starts with Web3, its associated technologies, and UAE based Enjinstarter. Enjinstarter, launched in 2021 is a Launchpad, incubator, crowd funding, and advisory platform for Web3 metaverse, gaming, entertainment and impact and sustainable projects.

At the beginning of 2023, Enjinstarter appointed Vasseh Ahmed as the new Managing Director to lead the Web3 efforts in the MENA region. Vasseh spoke with LaraontheBlock to discuss Enjinstarter’s plans to help companies reach their Web3 ambitions while positioning Enjinstarter as the go to provider for impact and sustainability projects.

Ahmed, speaking with Lara on the Block, stated, “Before I joined Enjinstarter I was working in the UAE for four years on a digital bank project. I had been in the blockchain and crypto space for over 6 years, so when I met Prakash Somosundram, [Enjinstarter’s] CEO and Co-Founder, and we discussed the launch of an impact and sustainability track, I was all in.”

Enjinstarter in MENA

According to Ahmed, “We have supported 70 projects since inception, helping them raise a total of $10 million. Since the middle of 2022 we have focused on investing in founders who can demonstrate clear utility in their projects. This has worked really well so far, and we continue to onboard more projects each month.”

As for the MENA region, Ahmed believes that UAE has its allure not just because of the investments and capital being deployed in Web3, but also because of its very good regulatory environment and its strategy to build an innovative infrastructure. He explains, “The UAE has become a hotbed for Web3 projects. We are seeing an increasing number of start-ups and companies moving to the region. Enjinstarter is one of them, and we are the first Launchpad globally to apply for the appropriate license in Dubai. We have already received initial approval from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) and are now in the process of obtaining a full license to operate.”

He explains, “We appreciate VARA’s progressive approach to regulation. It has been instrumental in helping us at every step of the licensing process. We have a few more steps to complete in order to obtain the full license, then we can begin operations. Singapore has not shown the same commitment to virtual asset regulation, whichis one of the reasons we chose to expand to MENA and run Enjinstarter in a regulated manner.”

Enjinstarter and a Sustainable Future

The climate emergency is becoming a pressing issue. Temperatures are expected to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 which will raise sea levels and lead to huge climate changes and extinctions of many animals, and plants.

Yet to date nothing has seemed to incentivize people to do something about it even with the creation of carbon credits. The challenge with carbon credits is that they are only available to corporations and governments. Individuals don’t have much access other than through carbon offset schemes.

For this reason, Enjinstarter is looking to add more projects that focus on impact and sustainability replicating the success of their existing launchpad while complementing it with UAE’s outlook towards building a sustainable future.

Ahmed states, “Web3 has a major role to play in addressing the climate crisis. Carbon credits, in particular, can benefit from Web3’s underlying technology to increase transparency and accessibility. We want to support projects that are looking for ways to shift incentives away from exploitation and toward preservation and regeneration.”

He adds, “Corporate demand for emission reduction strategies is clear. Microsoft, for example, has taken the lead in offsetting its carbon footprint by buying carbon credits. The UAE government has also signalled its desire to be the first carbon-neutral country in MENA. What we need are more initiatives looking to fulfill this demand. Our climate launchpad is designed to scale these initiatives and, ultimately, climate impact.”

Enjinstarter is already working with large scale projects that will be announced in due time, but also wants to focus on grassroots projects. Ahmed explains, “Major projects aren’t the only way to effectively combat climate change. If there is a project making demonstrable climate impact, we want to incubate, accelerate, and match them with interested investors.” 

Ahmed also believes AI (Artificial Intelligence) will be part of Web3 climate solutions. He explains, “As a scuba diver I have seen firsthand how ocean species are either extinct or very close to extinction. Putting these species in the metaverse and allowing users to interact with them can help us build awareness around the importance of preserving them. We can work directly with marine conservations to build the kind of metaverse experiences that maximize engagement with people. Today’s youth, for example, already spend a lot of time gaming. Why not give them the opportunity to play for a good cause?”

Web3 is changing Business models

Enjinstarter has been working with corporations to help them transition seamlessly from their Web2 past  to a Web3 future. Web3 is changing business models and inevitable outcome of digitization and the metaverse sits at the center of it all.

The company is a strong partner with Web3 giant Animoca Brands, the holding company of The Sandbox metaverse. Enjinstarter and Animoca not only have in common their belief in the metaverse but they also have common investors. True Global Ventures 4 Plus has invested both entities. Enjinstarter raised US$5 million in their Series-A round from True Global Ventures 4 Plus.

According to Ahmed, ”True Global Ventures is a very hands-on VC and we love having them as our only VC investor so far. They were instrumental in developing our UAE expansion strategy.”

Both Enjinstarter and Animoca Brands believe that the future of the metaverse hinges on interoperability. The two partnered together for OMA3™, a collaboration of Web3 metaverse platform creators whose goal is to ensure virtual land, digital assets, ideas, and services are highly interoperable between platforms and transparent to all communities. OMA3™ is open to all Web3 metaverse builders.

With this in mind Enjinstarter has developed its Web3 Innovation consulting practice that works with brands, large corporations, and Web2 companies to help them develop Web3 strategies.

Ahmed explains, “In the UAE and GCC there is a lot of excitement towards and experimentation with Web3.. Part of our mission is to help clients jump into Web3 and the metaverse. We’ve developed a playbook for success comprising 30 core skills and actvities. The most important is to take a community-first approach, meaning that you build your community first, then your product. ”

Utilizing a holistic multi-disciplinary approach and a portfolio of partners, Enjinstarter has been able to help replicate its successes with previous projects and build loyalty based metaverse experiences, NFTs, and more.

This is just the beginning; Ahmed believes that there is a lot happening in the region on a government and corporate level and that the future will see AI and Web3 come together as the masses adopt Web3 and metaverse experiences.

Saudi’s first NFT marketplace platform, Nuqtah has raised a seed round of millions of dollars from Blockchain platform Polygon and Animoca Brands. As per the release the new funding will scale Nuqtah’s business over the next 12 months.

In 2022, Nuqtah had announced it was planning to raise $5 million in upcoming seed rounds.

Licensed by the Saudi Ministry of Communication and Information technology and the Ministry of Investment, Nuqtah aims to to empower its creators, businesses, and users to unlock the new opportunities that the Web3 space offers to the region. Nuqtah allows individuals and businesses to easily build, deploy and monetize NFT collections without having to navigate complicated blockchain infrastructure.

Yat Siu, the executive chairman and co-founder of Animoca Brands, commented: “Our investment into Nuqtah is another meaningful step in our commitment to build up the Web3 industry in MENA as well as develop our own capabilities in the region. Nuqtah is an important pioneer and we anticipate that it will greatly help to boost Web3 and NFT adoption in the Middle East. We will continue to expand our operational presence and collaborate with local strategic partners looking to adopt Web3.”

In February of this year Nuqtah signed an MOU with Saudi telecom group to tokenize photographs fro STC’s Sarha project. 

Nuqtah is helmed by Salwa Radwi, an award-winning photographer, artist, and Web3 and blockchain advocate. In 2021 she founded Nuqtah to serve as the first-of-its-kind blockchain technology provider and developer in the MENA region, making her one of the first female founders and CEOs in Saudi Arabia’s NFT landscape. Salwa is joined by co-founders who previously worked at major companies including Careem and Oracle, and whose extensive industry experience has enabled Nuqtah to become a prominent and respected advocate of Web3 in the Kingdom.

Salwa Radwi, founder and CEO of Nuqtah, noted in the release, “Watching Animoca Brands pioneer and enable the Web3 scene since day one has been so inspirational, and so we take great pride in the trust placed in Nuqtah through this investment. We look forward to working together to unlock the massive potential and opportunities in the Middle East.”

Speaking to LaraontheBlock, Salwa Radwi confirmed that the latest seed investment raises millions of dollars. She states, “ This new round of investment will open new lines of opportunities, not only financially but also through animoca and polygons extravagant network.”

Nuqtah had raised close to a million dollars in its pre-seed round from Shorooq Partners, according to Radwi.  At that time Nuqtah planned to build on the thriving NFTs space, and utilize the underlying blockchain technology to spearhead innovation in other verticals such as media and entertainment.

Animoca Brands, the creator of sandbox metaverse and other Web3 projects has been very interested in the MENA region. It announced it would be entering Dubai through its metaverse Dubaiverse, and it also signed an MOU with Saudi government at beginning of 2023. 

Animoca’s brand, the Sandbox announced during the 62 edition of the True Global Ventures Conference that it will be bringing its metaverse strategy to Dubai, with the ‘Dubaiverse’. It will work with local partners including Khaleej Times media outlet. 

Animoca Brand’s Dubai-themed metaverse will follow the blueprint of its subsidiary Sandbox’s Hong Kong “Mega City,’ a gaming metaverse and virtual cultural hub based on the Asian financial hub of Hong Kong.

As per the news on Forkast, the  Dubaiverse will be built through local partnerships, In doing so, the Hong Kong-based blockchain game specialist will partner with firms in the film, music, entertainment, acting, finance, real estate, and gaming industries.

Sebastien Borget, cofounder and chief operating officer (COO) of Sandbox Paris, added, “Other planned location-based metaverses are in the works for Singapore, Korea, and Turkey.”

Dubai’s virtual asset regulator was the first regulator in the world to purchase a piece of land in Sandbox. Borget noted, “It’s been a key moment, and from there, we’ve been able to attract other major local partners and brands.”

Mehtap Onder, Managing Director for Dubai at GCEX, a digital brokerage firm, said they will also enter Animoca’s metaverse, offering virtual asset education in a way that couldn’t be accomplished before. 

The Dubaiverse will also have a local news partner, in Khaleej Times following a similar partnership between Hong Kong’s Sandbox and local newspaper the South China Morning Post.

“As publishers, business models are being challenged all over the world, and new business models come into this space, it’s a really important strategic move for us,” said Sohail Nawaz, Chief Digital Officer of Khaleej Times. 

True Global Ventures with a presence in the UAE announced its total investments in Animoca Brands have reached US$38 million.