Token Bay Capital limited(“Token Bay”) is expanding its venture capital footprint in the capital of the UAE and has been granted an in-principle approval (IPA) from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) to carry out regulated activities that include managing both token and equity investments in early stage crypto start ups in the ADGM.

Subject to final regulatory approval for the grant of the Financial Services Permission (FSP), Token Bay brings niche capabilities to manage both token and equity investments in early-stage crypto start-ups under the FSRA’s Venture Capital Fund Manager (VCFM) framework.

Founded in 2021, Token Bay is a Crypto Venture Capital Fund that has adopted a regulatory-first approach from day one. Token Bay invests in start-ups building next-generation blockchain infrastructure and decentralized applications for Web3. Building on the success of its first fund, Token Bay is now launching its second fund and will continue to back outstanding entrepreneurs building infrastructure solutions for the new token economy.

In addition to Abu Dhabi, Token Bay also has offices in Hong Kong, and is strategically positioned across digital assets hubs in both the Middle East and Asia.

Founder and Managing Partner of Token Bay, Lucy Gazmararian stated, “This marks the first phase of global expansion for Token Bay, and we’re excited to have been granted the IPA in ADGM for venture capital investment in tokens as well as in equity. Blockchain technology has the potential to drive innovation through tokenization, and as blockchain networks continue to evolve, it is important that as venture capitalists we are fully equipped to support talented founders building in Web3 by directly participating in these networks and taking an ownership stake through tokens. We extend our sincerest thanks to the regulator for their forward-thinking approach and open dialogue so that we were able to reach this important milestone and establish Token Bay in one of the world’s leading international financial centers and digital assets hub.”

ADGM’s progressive regulatory framework, English common law legal framework, status as a leading centre for financial innovation and vibrant blockchain and digital assets ecosystem have attracted Token Bay to set up offices in the capital of the UAE.

Arvind Ramamurthy, Chief of Market Development at ADGM said, “We extend a warm welcome to Token Bay Capital as they join ADGM’s international financial centre and commence their establishment in Abu Dhabi, marking the beginning of their global expansion journey. ADGM is dedicated to cultivating innovation and excellence in the financial sector, particularly within the virtual asset space. With progressive regulatory frameworks that facilitate companies like Token Bay Capital, ADGM’s vibrant ecosystem stands as the optimal platform for initiating their global growth trajectory.”

Token Bay’s Venture Funds offer institutions, multi-national companies, private banks, family offices and high-net-worth individuals the opportunity to invest in an emerging asset class right at the start of a multi-decade cycle. 

Sygnum Bank which has a regulated digital asset bank in the UAE, alongside Hamilton Lane, and Apex Group announced a cross industry project that expands global private market access to significantly larger and more diverse groups of qualified investors using Blockchain.

Leveraging the power of the blockchain, the new DLT-registered share class automates and integrates traditionally separate fund management functions, increasing both accessibility and efficiency. The first fund to feature the new share class will be Hamilton Lane’s USD 3.8bn GPA Fund, which has an annual average performance growth of 14.6 percent and has outperformed the MSCI World Net Total Return Index (USD) by 4.44 percent since inception in 2019.

Leveraging Sygnum’s DLT solutions, the minimum investment has a significantly lower fund entry point than direct investments into traditional private markets’ evergreen funds. These DLT-registered shares will be available exclusively to Sygnum professional, institutional and corporate clients.

The unique investment opportunity is the result of a strategic, cross-industry project underway for more than a year. Hamilton Lane, a leading global private markets investment firm with over USD 900bn in assets under management and supervision, will serve as investment manager for the new offering. Apex Group, in its role as transfer agent and fund administrator (via Apex Fund Services regulated in Luxembourg), and FundRock-LRI, in its role as Alternative Investment Fund Manager (AIFM), is leveraging Sygnum’s DLT solution to manage the on-chain share registry.

Victor Jung, Head of Digital Assets at Hamilton Lane, says “We strongly believe that tokenisation has the potential to transform the way investors gain access to the historically strong returns and performance opportunities within the private markets, and are delighted to announce this digital-native, institutional-grade offering with Sygnum and Apex. This joint initiative with the Swiss Private Wealth team underscores the region as a leading digital asset hub that we believe will serve as a catalyst for broader adoption within the banking and wealth management industry. We would like to invite the community to join us in this movement.”

Fatmire Bekiri, Sygnum Head of Tokenisation, says “The new DLT-registered share class in Hamilton Lane’s GPA Fund marks the first entry in Apex’s on-chain share register. This is a significant breakthrough in making private markets more broadly accessible and investible via DLT solutions. We are proud to join forces with other industry leaders like Hamilton Lane and Apex, and we look forward to this strategic partnership delivering a series of new and unique opportunities for investors, as well as heralding positive, blockchain-powered change for the industry.”

Bruce Jackson, CFA, Apex Group Chief of Digital Asset Funds and Business says “Hamilton Lane will raise new investor capital, while expanding direct access to their GPA Fund offering. Clients of Sygnum Bank now have access to a sophisticated alternative asset class, designed to achieve significant alpha through uncorrelated investment returns. Apex continues to meet its goal of increasing access for its clients’ alternative strategies and will continue to perfect its Framework Operating Model for the distribution of alternative asset funds using blockchain as the subscription, onboarding, operating, administration, and transfer agency platform.”

This unique investment opportunity is made possible by Sygnum’s expertise in leveraging the blockchain’s capabilities in a fully-regulated environment. Novel project aspects include the “fractionalisation” of assets to enable smaller investment entry-points, streamlined compliance, the end-to-end automation of the on-chain share registry and transfer agent activities, as well as increased levels of transparency due to the open nature of DLT. This project is built on the Polygon blockchain.

According to McKinsey5, the +300% growth of global private markets fundraising between 2009 and 2022 was due to its consistent outperformance of public markets. However, the multi-million-dollar commitments that were typically required to participate in this high-growth market have, until now, limited private markets exposure for many in the broader investment community.

Sygnum closed a $40 million round, which valued the firm at $900 million earlier this year.

Cayman Island C1 Fund, a fund dedicated to the digital assets place, with a presence in the UAE and USA, has partnered with Asian based Spartan Group, a Web3 advisory and asset management firm.

As per the press release, the partnership with Spartan Group signifies a key milestone for C1 Fund, as Spartan Group brings unparalleled expertise and a proven history of success in advising on multi-billion-dollar M&A transactions and fundraises within the digital assets sector.

We are thrilled to join forces with Spartan Group, said Dr. Najam Kidwai, CEO & Co-Founder of C1 Fund. “Spartan deep understanding of the crypto, Web3 and blockchain landscape, coupled with a track record of successful engagements with industry leaders, aligns seamlessly with our vision for C1 Fund. The synergy between C1 Fund and Spartan Group is a testament to our shared commitment to driving innovation and growth in the digital assets sector. This collaboration significantly enhances our ability to identify and seize emerging opportunities, expanding our influence within the dynamic realm of digital assets secondaries.”

Spartan Group’s Co-Founder, Casper B. Johansen, expressed equal enthusiasm, stating, “Collaborating with C1 Fund opens up exciting avenues for both organizations. C1 Fund’s focus on digital assets secondaries complements our expertise, creating a synergy that will enhance our ability to drive value for our clients and the broader crypto community. We look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership that pioneers innovation and growth.”

Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Oraseya Capital, launched from the Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZ) will fund high technology startups from initial seed investment to Series B. The $136 million fund is aligned with the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33 which aims to develop SMEs. Their investment tickets go up to $3 million but startups have to have some form of presence in Dubai, UAE.

The fund will serve as a strategic partner for startups, providing guidance, support, and the necessary tools to navigate the challenges of growth and innovation. Oraseya Capital is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of technology startups, contributing to the sustainable development and progress of Dubai’s economy.

This launch comes days after Saeed Al Darkmaki, a UAE national well known in the crypto, blockchain and DeFi circles as an entrepreneur and investor joined BoCG, a Venture firm focused on an Arabian Peninsula Fund in MENA region, to oversee the growth of blockchain-based venture portfolios seeking the next stage of growth through their Venture Operating Model (VOM).

In early October, Deus X Capital with offices in the UAE launched with $1 billion in assets according to an article published in CoinDesk. As per the article the family office backed investment firm launched on October 2nd with Tim Grant as CEO.

Saeed Al Darkmaki, a UAE national well known in the crypto, blockchain and DeFi circles as an entrepreneur and investor has joined BoCG, a Venture firm focused on an Arabian Peninsula Fund in MENA region, to oversee the growth of blockchain-based venture portfolios seeking the next stage of growth through their Venture Operating Model (VOM).

As per the announcement, Al Darmaki, renowned for his role as CEO of Sheesha Finance, a decentralized cryptocurrency platform aiming to bridge the gap between DeFi and traditional financial markets, brings invaluable expertise to the table as a prominent figure in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.

Under Al Darmaki’s leadership, Sheesha Finance has gained recognition for its unique approach to DeFi. The platform offers investors access to a diverse portfolio of promising projects, allowing them to participate in early-stage investments and receive rewards in the form of Sheesha Finance’s native tokens.

Al Darmaki’s impressive career trajectory commenced in October 2009 at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), where he served as an Operations Specialist before transitioning to the role of Fixed Income & Treasury Specialist in May 2013. With a desire to explore the evolving cryptocurrency and digital asset landscape, he co-founded Alphabit in January 2017—a dynamically managed investment fund. His market knowledge and experience positioned him as Managing Director at Alphabit, where he provided invaluable guidance and mentorship to blockchain entrepreneurs across finance and business development domains.

Beyond Alphabit, Al Darmaki’s influence extended as Chairman of eGovern, a distinguished UAE-based company, collaborating closely with governments and corporations to identify and implement tailored blockchain solutions that address pressing challenges and drive digital transformation. In 2021, he further expanded his portfolio as the Managing Director for the MENA region at Casper Labs, empowering him to deliver enterprise-grade blockchain solutions to meet the growing demand in the market.

“With the addition of Saeed Al Darmaki to our team, we will accelerate our efforts to scale our Venture Operating Model and Antifragile thesis in the Middle East. Saeed and our team have a deep and intrinsic desire to empower local Emiratis and the next generation of scalable companies in the Arabian Peninsula. With our collective expertise in finance, investments, and technology, we believe the GCC and MENA regions will excel in developing a healthy public and private market grounded by fundamentals. Saeed has already made a significant impact in driving the future of digital assets and we are excited to join forces to bring in another pivotal force to the region.” – Lyon Kassab, BoCG Ventures Managing Partner

In his role as a Board Advisor to BoCG Ventures, Al Darmaki will oversee the growth of blockchain-based venture portfolios seeking the next stage of growth through their Venture Operating Model (VOM). Additionally, he will contribute to developing the limited partner base, engaging forward-thinking investors and sovereign wealth funds in the GCC and MENA regions. Al Darmaki’s mission is to bridge traditional investment capital with scalable companies while empowering second and third-generation entrepreneurs to synergize with BoCG Ventures’ core value proposition of integrated teams and technology-driven scale.

“Since our first meeting, I was fully aligned and impressed with the pattern recognition that has driven the BoCG Ventures team to the Middle East. Their antifragile thesis and philosophical underpinnings show a deep understanding of history, geopolitics, macroeconomic trends, and a foundation of human capacity building. As an avid early stage investor, I am well aware of the value creation that their Venture Operating Model can bring to companies and to the future of the GCC and MENA regions. I am thrilled to be in a position to help BoCG Ventures instill their entrepreneurial influence while simultaneously driving local innovation.” – Saeed Al Darmaki

Throughout his career, Saeed has held notable positions such as Managing Director at Binary Financial and occupied board seats at esteemed entities including DEX, RealEx, MENA Fintech Association, BeMobi, Jahani & Associates, LEAD Ventures, Royale Finance, Artha, PAID Network, and Kenzi Wealth. These roles have not only granted him valuable insights into the crypto/blockchain landscape but have also facilitated the cultivation of a robust network, exponentially augmenting his market knowledge. It was in June 2018 that Saeed elected to depart from ADIA, dedicating his full focus to the burgeoning crypto/blockchain industry.

Venture capital fund Varys Capital is looking to enter the GCC market, and is working to raise $75 million for its equity fund focused on blockchain innovation. The fund aims to achieve long-term growth from a curated portfolio of high-quality, early-stage businesses utilising blockchain to solve addressable needs in the wider software, gaming, and finance industries. 

To govern its entry into the UAE, Varys Capital has secured reputable local services, including Al Tamimi, one of the GCC’s most prestigious law firms, as its primary counsel.

According to the press release, the company has received inquiries from local institutions and prominent investors. The fund has 12 commitments in place across decentralised (DeFi) and centralised (CeFi) finance, GameFi/Web3, infrastructure, and emerging technologies.

Darius Askaripour, Managing Partner, Varys Capital said, “We are looking at entering the UAE market first encouraged by supportive local government directives, its high innovation levels, robust infrastructure, and forward-thinking mindset, but plan to deploy across the Middle East and North Africa with multiple deals already at the final stages of due diligence.”

The move comes as the International Market Analysis Research & Consulting Group (IMARC) forecasts the GCC’s digital asset management market will be worth US$222 million by 2028, registering a compound annual growth rate of 12.9% over the next five years.

Since 2018, Varys Capital has managed an equity-focused venture fund and a distinguished quantitative trading fund. Its blockchain venture fund boasts a total value to paid-in capital returns of 440% and over triple-digit internal rate of return since capital deployment in March this year.

The fund has made five investments in prominent blockchain, cloud technology, and games projects such as modular blockchain network developer Movement Labs, games studio SunSpear Games, blockchain enhancer for mobile operators Bloxtel, competitive multiplayer first-person shooter games producer Shrapnel, and cloud hardware and software developer, Nirvana Labs. Two of the projects have already experienced significant uprounds boosting returns

UAE based Illuminati Capital has raised $50 million to invest in early-stage blockchain startups including game companies.

According to the news, the Dubai based firm and its partners have individually invested in blockchain startups worth over $1 billion.

Illuminati Capital aims to offer more than just financial support. The venture capital firm is dedicated to building the global Web3 ecosystem and driving transformative shifts in decentralized technologies.

The team behind Illuminati Capital has collectively deployed $30 million, resulting in exits worth $150 million.

Vickaash Agrawal partner at Illiminati Capital stated in an article in Venture Beats, “We are witnessing a remarkable growth trajectory in Web3 venture investing.  With a track record of 120-plus successful blockchain investments in my investment portfolio, I will bring my expertise in data, infrastructure, regulation and mining.”

Illuminati Capital’s investment focus spans multiple verticals, including decentralized finance (DeFi), blockchain gaming, artificial intelligence, NFT infrastructure, and real-world assets (RWA). By strategically investing in pioneering sectors, Illuminati Capital aims to play a pivotal role in shaping the decentralized economy of the future.

“The possibilities of decentralized technology are endless,” said Dhaval Parikh, a partner at Illuminati Capital and blockchain investor with five-plus years of experience and a portfolio of leading Web3 high-end projects, in a statement. “With a background in VC, I will focus on due diligence, risk assessment, portfolio management, and deal flow while analyzing industry trends and key ecosystem insights.”

The Saudi Venture Capital (SVC) has invested $30 million in the $150 million Bedaya Fund II, managed by UAE Shorooq Partners to back early-stage startups with a focus on fintech, digital assets, Web3, Metaverse, DeFi, and other areas.

At the launch of Bedaya Fund II, in a press release Shane Shin founding partner at Shorooq Partners stated,  “We have always been early movers, be that robo-advisory, crowdfunding, SME lending, open banking, card issuer processing, and so forth. We believe Web 3.0 models like DeFi, NFT, Metaverse are going to be the key players in the next iteration of online business.”

Bedaya Fund II is an early stage venture capital fund managed by Shorooq Partners. The fund is located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and invests in Northern Africa, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan. The fund targets investments in the fintech and software sectors.

On Pitchbook they benchmark the Bedaya II fund against EchoVC Chain Blockchain Fund,  an early-stage venture capital fund managed by EchoVC Partners, located in Lagos, Nigeria which invests in Africa. The fund targets cryptocurrency/blockchain sectors.

The subscription agreement between Saudi Venture Capital and Shorooq Partners was signed by Dr. Nabeel Koshak, CEO and Board Member at SVC, and Mahmoud Adi, Founding Partner at Shorooq Partners.

Dr. Koshak commented: “The investment in Bedaya Fund II by Shorooq Partners is part of SVC’s Investment in Funds Program to support the growth of the VC ecosystem in Saudi Arabia for all stages and to fill financing gaps for early stages. SVC’s expansion in investing in early-stage funds comes as a result of the recent support from the SME Bank to increase the investment capital of SVC, leading to a total investment capital of $1.6 billion.”

Mahmoud Adi added: “We are privileged to have SVC as a strategic investor to Bedaya Fund II, again after our partnership in the prior fund (Bedaya Fund I). This commitment highlights the increasing confidence in Saudi Arabia’s thriving startup ecosystem. With our persistent focus in Saudi Arabia and leadership position across the Middle East, Bedaya Fund II is well-positioned to support the growth and innovation of early-stage startups.

SVC is a government investment company established in 2018 and is a subsidiary of the SME Bank, one the development banks affiliated to the National Development Fund. SVC aims to stimulate and sustain financing for startups and SMEs from pre-Seed to pre-IPO by investing $1.6 billion through investment in funds and co-investment in startups. SVC invested in 38 funds that have invested in 674 companies through 1,257 deals.

Once again Bybit is supporting the crypto and blockchain ecosystem in the UAE. Yesterday it was with DMCC crypto center, and today it is with the University of Sharjah. Bybit has contributed $272.000 equivalent to 1 million AE to establish a scholarship fund to support 20 students to accelerate their academic and research career into fintech and blockchain at the American University of Sharjah.

20 computer science and computer engineering students will benefit from the Bybit Scholarship as soon as this fall.

Bybit is also committed to broader initiatives including an extra AED 100,000 to sponsor a hackathon for the blockchain community in the UAE. The first AUS-Bybit Inter-College Hackathon will be held at the AUS College of Engineering in the 2023-2024 academic year.

“AUS’ reputation as a center for education excellence stems in part from its strong industry links that allows it to continuously bridge gaps between industry and academia. Through this partnership with Bybit, our students will have access to the technical knowledge that helps them keep up with all that is novel in the crypto and blockchain industry, enhance their skills and support their education through the establishment of the Bybit Scholarship. At AUS, we graduate professionals and lifelong learners who are capable of making a difference in an ever-evolving world,” said Dr. Susan Mumm, Chancellor of AUS.

“Younger generations hold the key in driving the blockchain revolution forward,” said Ben Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Bybit. “We are pleased to create the Bybit Scholarship at AUS to help their talented students’ future-proof their knowledge and skills. We thank AUS for the opportunities to raise crypto awareness and share first-hand knowledge of the industry with students from one of the most prestigious universities in the region. I look forward to being inspired by the future engineers, blockchain scientists, and Web3 startup founders.”

In a recent LinkedIn post for Vineet Budki, Managing Partner and CEO for Cypher Capital he announced that in one year since the launch of Cypher Capital the $100 million fund has invested $60 million in 40 + blockchain startups.

According to Vineet the first fund had invested in over 100+ blockchain startups that included KILT Protocol, Casper Labs, Cross the ages and others. As for the $60 million, part of the $100 million fund, it was invested in blockchain startups that included Mysten Labs, zkLink, Karate Combat Revolving games, bitsCrunch Cymbal and many others.

As per Budki, Cypher Capital invests in 4-5 startups each month as they continue to support the Web3 ecosystem with capital, knowledge and the CyberHub in Dubai UAE.

This comes as Cypher Capital announced that it was part of the strategic funding round for zkLink, a pioneering multi-chain ZK-Rollup trading infrastructure. The startup raised $10 million  from a group of high-profile investors, including Coinbase Ventures, UAE Cypher Capital, Ascensive Assets, SIG DTI, BigBrain Holdings, Efficient Frontier, Csquared Ventures, and others.

This latest round brings the total funding to $18.5 million. The funds raised will be used to further the zkLink mission of providing crypto traders with a seamless multi-chain experience through our cutting-edge decentralized trading layer.

This technology is based on a multi-chain ZK-Rollup, a cryptographic technique that enables scalable, cost-effective, and secure transactions across multiple blockchains. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way traders execute transactions.

Prior to this Cypher Capital also announced its partnership and $1 million seed investment with Saudi and Singapore based AI Avatar company BuzzAR to create disruptive AI+LBS Web3 location-based game projects, the BuzzAR LBS metaverse project DSpace.

The partnership will allow the companies to leverage proprietary generative AI technologies on its Metaport, a portal that turns human faces to avatars in real-time, to create a decentralized social graph. With leading retail holdings, hospitality partners, and tourism government collaborations in Singapore and Saudi Arabia, BuzzAR is poised to reshape the gaming landscape.

Bill Qian, Chairman of Cypher Capital Group: the lead investor on ‘DSpace’ said: “We are thrilled to support this ground-breaking joint initiative by BuzzAR and some of our gaming portfolios. As the lead investor in this project, we believe that ‘DSpace’ has the potential to revolutionize the gaming industry and pave the way for new opportunities in the AI+LBS Web3 Metaverse. I am more confident than ever before that our commitment to creating an immersive and culturally diverse Metaverse will not only bolster tourism and economic growth in the Middle East but also foster global connectivity and collaboration. We stand at the forefront of this exciting new era, and I eagerly anticipate the transformative impact Dspace will have on our world.”