Saudi Arabia’s KAUST launches third phase of startup accelerator

Young entrepreneurs play a key role under ongoing reforms. (Shutterstock)
Updated 10 February 2019

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.


Four Saudi students to compete at international science and engineering fair

Updated 17 February 2020

Four Saudi students to compete at international science and engineering fair

  • Intel ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science competition
  • The four women from Jeddah were winners at the Kingdom’s National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity

RIYADH: Four Saudi students will represent the Kingdom at a major international science and engineering fair in the US later this year.

The four women from Jeddah were winners at the Kingdom’s National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity. They will be competing against more than 1,700 students from 77 countries at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) for more than $5 million in awards and scholarships.

The Saudi students traveling to Arizona in May are Dan Mohammed Al-Yafei and Tharaa Tariq Al-Dabbagh, who won an award at the olympiad in the field of science and the environment, and Lana Fahd Al-Abbasi and Zeina Tariq Maimani, who won in the field of physics and astronomy.

Intel ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science competition and is an opportunity for young minds around the world to share ideas and showcase cutting-edge projects.

Intel ISEF says the winners are selected on their creative ability, scientific thought, as well as the thoroughness, skill and clarity shown in their projects.

Former Intel ISEF participant Wud Al-Saadoon won first place in the finals of the Kingdom’s National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity after working extensively on her project. She discovered her passion for science when she was in third grade, passing all aptitude tests for elementary, intermediate and high school and registering in Mawhiba enrichment programs starting from elementary school to high school.

“These programs allow students to enrol temporarily in a Saudi university,” she told Arab News. “This is how I participated as a high school student in the second olympiad program before I enrolled at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.”

She specialized in renewable chemical energy and made a special device which won her third place in a local competition.

She then qualified for Intel ISEF, where she won fourth place in the field of chemical energy last year.