Individual investors top financiers of Saudi technical startups

Nawwaf Al-Sahhaf, CEO of Badir Program for Technology Incubators.
Updated 12 December 2017

Individual investors top financiers of Saudi technical startups

Individual investors have the biggest stake in Badir incubated startups in the innovation and modern technology field at SR30 million ($8 million), representing 40 percent of the total funding. In the third quarter of 2017 alone, the funding amounted to SR75 million.
The government came in second with financial support to such companies at SR29 million, corresponding to 39 percent of the total, statistics issued recently by Badir Program for Technology Incubators revealed.
The private sector companies released about SR10 million equivalent to 13 percent of the total, while investment funds shelled out about SR6 million to the funding of startups or 8 percent of the total.
Moreover, Badir statistics showed an increase in the technical startups funding deals by venture capital companies, with declared investments in the program’s incubated or graduated companies reaching about SR32 million in the past three months of the current year.
Currently, the number of Badir incubated technical startups increased by 24 percent to reach 158 companies, compared to 127 in the beginning of the same year.
Among the most active sectors for Saudi entrepreneurs, the statistics of Badir program revealed that startups in the field of the Internet of Things, big data, and cooperative economy dominated about 75 percent of the 158 incubated companies.
On the other hand, the biotechnologies companies reached about 16 percent, compared to 9 percent for industrial technologies.
Nawwaf Al-Sahhaf, CEO of Badir Program for Technology Incubators, one of the main programs of KACST, said: “The startups are facing a major difficulty in finding financing in their early stages, while their chances of getting financing in advanced stages are still stable, especially those having promising growth potentials, and at the same time surrounded by high risks.”
He added: “Given the impulse in the activity of business incubators and accelerators, and the increase in the number of startups in the Saudi market, we witnessed in the current year a considerable increase in the number of platforms of collective funding and the networks of individual investors, in addition to the growth in the number of venture capital investment companies, the fact that reassured somehow the Saudi entrepreneurs regarding the new alternatives for providing flexible funding opportunities in order to help them build and develop investment plans.”

KAUST honors 243 students at graduation ceremony

Updated 24 min 9 sec ago

KAUST honors 243 students at graduation ceremony

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) awarded 243 master’s degree and Ph.D. candidates with their diplomas during its ninth commencement ceremony on the KAUST campus on Friday. 

The ceremony was presided over by members of the KAUST Board of Trustees, including Board Chairman Khalid A. Al-Falih, minister of energy, industry and mineral resources and chairman of Saudi Aramco, and attended by senior KAUST leadership and faculty members. 

Commencement 2018 highlights included the official inauguration of KAUST’s third president, Dr. Tony Chan, and conferral of the university’s first honorary doctoral degree to Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, former chairman of the KAUST board of trustees, former minister of petroleum and mineral resources and commencement 2018 speaker. The event also included remarks by 2018 student speaker and KAUST Ph.D. graduate Nada Aljassim, the first KAUST Gifted Student Program participant to receive her Ph.D. from the university. 

In his chairman’s address, Al-Falih said the event was “an occasion … to mark a number of milestones and celebrations … In the past year alone, KAUST has … achieved important advances in research, education, innovation and talent, all while making an impact … in Saudi Arabia and globally.” 

“KAUST has taken its place on the world’s scientific and academic landscape,” Al-Naimi said. “Ideas and innovations (from KAUST) … make a difference when they soar above our nation and around the world.” 

“As a university, we are looking forward to our next decade,” said President Chan, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees for seven years. “In my new position, I am really looking forward to the opportunity and challenge and becoming engaged with Saudi society in general.” 

President Chan noted one aim of his presidency is “to align KAUST’s mission with the Kingdom’s priorities — and in particular Vision 2030. The Kingdom is moving to diversifying the economy and toward innovation and technology, which align with KAUST.” 

Chan said: “We have formed a NEOM Center of Excellence at KAUST with the express purpose of working together with NEOM. One of our senior faculty members, Professor Carlos Duarte, is on the advisory board for the Red Sea Project. We have a KAUST Red Sea Research Center and we are located next to the Red Sea, which is a treasure for the Kingdom. We consider it one of our missions to support the projects going on in the Kingdom.” 

“KAUST is still very young, but we see ourselves as contributing to the innovation and economic development of the country and the development of human talent,” he added.