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.


Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

Updated 19 April 2019
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Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

  • Finance representatives of 150 government bodies meet for the Budget Forum 2020

RIYADH: Saudi finance chiefs have kicked off a major conference in the capital aimed at mapping out the Kingdom’s budget requirements.
Around 300 specialists representing 150 government bodies met at the InterContinental hotel in Riyadh for the Budget Forum 2020.
Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan welcomed delegates to the second edition of the gathering organized by the Saudi Finance Ministry under the slogan “Partnership and Empowerment.”
Al-Jadaan said the ministry was focused on “partnership and commitment,” and sought to share the challenge of developing an effective budget to achieve the Kingdom’s ambitious goals.
“We are also committed to empowering financial leaderships to learn about the ministry’s programs and projects and provide training and qualification opportunities to the best international standards,” he added.
The finance chief said the budget planning process required the collaboration of multiple authorities and a clear strategy based on transparency. 
Items up for discussion at the forum included financial planning in governmental bodies, automation, and the promotion of revenues and efficient spending.
Finance Ministry steering committee chairman, Abdul Aziz bin Saleh Al-Freih, stressed the importance of the forum in getting the ball rolling at an early stage on formulating a general state budget.
Workshops were held on the sidelines of the conference focused on empowering government organizations, and a training program on financial planning and income estimations was also staged.