Saudi Arabia’s KAUST launches third phase of startup accelerator

Young entrepreneurs play a key role under ongoing reforms. (Shutterstock)
Updated 10 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s KAUST launches third phase of startup accelerator

  • The university said the program raised awareness about branding and also increased the attention on startup accelerators
  • Saudi Arabia has been investing heavily in startups to achieve its Vision 2030 reform plan objective of moving away from dependency on oil

JEDDAH: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched the third phase of its flagship startup accelerator at its headquarters in Thuwal.
TAQADAM gives Saudi students, staff and recent graduates the tools and support to start a successful tech-based company through mentoring and training.
Successful applicants receive SR75,000 ($20,000) in grant funding and access to a co-working space.
The program’s first phase was launched in 2016 and has helped 39 startups and granted more than SR4.5 million in seed funding based on grants.
The university said Friday it had received 518 applications for the third phase and that 42 had been accepted.
The number of businessmen and businesswomen had reached 133, and 35 percent of these were women.
A number of universities in the Kingdom participated: Prince Mohammed bin Salman College, Umm Al-Qura University, Princess Nourah bin Abdulrahman University, Taif University, King Saud University, Prince Muqrin University, Prince Sultan University, Jazan University, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and King Abdul Aziz University.
TAQADAM covers many sectors such as agricultural technology, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, energy, fashion and health care.
The university said the program raised awareness about branding and also increased the attention on startup accelerators.
It also aims to enhance KAUST’s role in contributing to a knowledge-based economy and encourages participation on social media platforms.
“We’ve seen really good outcomes in terms of specific technologies, such as in energy or artificial intelligence in the last two cohorts,” Hattan Ahmed, entrepreneurship collaboration manager in Innovation and Economic Development at KAUST, told Arab News last October.
“They are resolving some key challenges, not just for Saudi Arabia but the world.” Another startup developed laser lights to help crops grow indoors, he added.
The Kingdom has been investing heavily in startups to achieve its Vision 2030 reform plan objective of moving away from dependency on oil.
Young entrepreneurs are expected to play a key role as the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority tries to boost foreign direct investment.


Bollywood comes to Saudi Arabia

Updated 22 min 45 sec ago
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Bollywood comes to Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will host several concerts featuring major Bollywood performers after the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) signed two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with Indian entertainment companies on Wednesday.
The agreements were reached during the Saudi-Indian Forum that was held in the latter’s capital, New Delhi, during the visit of the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the South Asian nation.
Over 400 people attended the opening day of the forum, including government officials and businessmen from both countries. It included an exhibition called “Invest in Saudi Arabia,” in which several Saudi companies showcased their services, expertise and missions to their Indian counterparts, to facilitate investment from the subcontinent in the Kingdom’s burgeoning private sector.
The MoUs, signed by the GEA’s chief information officer, Ibrahim Al-Moqbil, were agreed with the creative agency Totem Spot FZE, to plan Bollywood concerts in the Kingdom in 2019, and entertainment agency BToS Productions, to manage the concerts for the Bollywood stars, as well as for other international musicians performing in Saudi Arabia later this year.