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.


Saudi passport directorate expands e-services through Absher

Saudi passport office said that the services will promote e-transactions and make it easier for people to get in touch with officials. (SPA)
Updated 01 April 2020

Saudi passport directorate expands e-services through Absher

  • Saudi Arabia’s information and communications technology sector makes up 4 percent of the Saudi gross domestic product

RIYADH: The Saudi General Directorate of Passports is offering a “messages and applications” service to people through the Absher online platform.
Beneficiaries can use the service by logging into their account on Absher, choosing the “My Services” option, general services, messages and applications, then clicking on the “General Directorate of Passports” link and selecting the required service from a list including “identification of residents, visas, transfer of information, transfer of information and change of profession, suggestions.” After writing their message, they simply click the “send” button.
The passport office said that the services will promote e-transactions and make it easier for people to get in touch with officials at the directorate to discuss their problems.
The Kingdom’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector makes up 4 percent of the Saudi gross domestic product.
The sector has experienced significant regulatory change, expressed across several public- and private-sector investment drives since the launch of Vision 2030.
Saudi Arabia is also the region’s largest ICT market, ranking 13th globally, with a value of $28.7 billion (SR107 billion) in 2019 and strong growth in both the consumer and enterprise segments.