Taqadam doubles funding for upcoming startups in KSA

Entrepreneurs exhibit their startup ideas at the Taqadam event in 2019. Startups use the grant funds to help with marketing and advertising, and digital development.
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Updated 13 October 2020

Taqadam doubles funding for upcoming startups in KSA

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and its partner Saudi British Bank (SABB) will award SR10 million ($2.7 million) to entrepreneurs participating in the fourth Taqadam Startup Accelerator program. The zero-equity grants, which have doubled from previous years, is expected to kick-start the accelerated growth of some of the most exciting new businesses in the Kingdom today.

Fifty-nine startups have joined Taqadam’s fourth cohort hailing from different industries, including agriculture, logistics, health care, real estate, education and more. Selected startups will receive expert mentorship and training to bring their ideas to life. They will also benefit from industry exposure, in addition to funding of SR150,000 each to invest in their growth and development.

“This year we doubled our grant funding for each startup to SR150,000 and doubled the number of startups accepted to the program,” said Kevin Cullen, vice president of innovation and economic development at KAUST. “This is in great part due to the support of our partner SABB. We anticipate that this will enable our startups to grow faster and stronger. Funding is the seed, but we also go much further and the heart of this program is in the incredible networks and mentorship offered to our startups.”

The accelerator, now in its fourth year, offers ongoing workshops in different topics for an average of three days each month throughout the accelerator period. Workshops are delivered by guest speakers in different areas such as digital marketing, growth hacking, software, hardware, human resources and hiring, e-commerce, finance, fundraising and a wide range of industrial specialty expertise.

Startups will use the grant funds to help with marketing and advertising, digital development, such as websites or apps, product development or prototyping, and staffing.

“Taqadam gives us a unique opportunity to finance and support the ambitions of some of the most exciting entrepreneurial talent. Thanks to the support of KAUST, the program has built a proud legacy in making sure the businesses our Kingdom needs most are getting the best possible start,” said Majed Najm, deputy managing director for corporate and institutional banking at SABB.

“The funding we received at the beginning from Taqadam has helped our startup in many aspects — especially with business development,” said Ankita Shree, co-founder of UnitX, a Taqadam startup. “In 2018, we came up with a software business idea and used Taqadam funding to develop our business and get software licenses, then we were able to participate in several trade shows and meet potential clients,” Shree added.

Taqadam cohort 4 kicked off virtually in June 2020 with a 2-week bootcamp and is continuing with monthly online workshops until the final showcase in early 2021.

Typically, startups receive funding from investors in exchange for an equity stake in their business. In this way Taqadam is unique, as KAUST and SABB are committed to ensuring high-potential startups grow without requiring startups to sacrifice control early on.

Elaa to redefine corporate & government travel in KSA

Updated 20 October 2020

Elaa to redefine corporate & government travel in KSA

Seera Group, a travel services company, has announced the launch of Elaa 3.0, a digital travel management solution (TMS) that has been designed to optimize corporate and government travel bookings across Saudi Arabia.

A new dedicated portal has been launched for Elaa, Seera’s travel management company, which enables employees of partner organizations to make all their bookings and travel planning seamlessly without having to go through a tedious and costly manual process. This means reduced cost through higher levels of transparency, predefined policy setting and travel management efficiency.

“Elaa made the most of the downtime caused by travel restrictions during the pandemic by digitizing and simplifying the processes and enabling continuous improvement and innovation for its partner companies across private and public sectors,” a statement said.

The new improved platform can digitally connect everything for customers whilst supporting them in the new normal, as travel management policies, structures and strategies have changed following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government ministries, departments and corporations with large-scale travel management requirements, can now manage all their requirements through Elaa’s new portal, which is designed as a flexible and scalable booking platform that is easy to navigate and is both time- and cost-efficient.

Abdulrahman Mutrib, executive vice president and group chief technology officer of Seera Group, said: “The new reality has brought a significant change in the travel requirements of corporate and government entities. Travel policies are constantly being updated or reviewed, and only a travel management system that can factor in these changes in real-time can add true value to organizations. Over the past years, we have been investing significantly in digitizing our processes, and we are now ready to offer the next-generation TMS system for our customers.

“The digitization of the processes, end-to-end, will mean less complexities in bookings, easy modifications and changes, as needed, and higher levels of operational efficiency. The automation of travel management, through Elaa 3.0, will lead to not only saving time but also cost advantages for the organization.”

Among the benefits for customers include search, select and booking of employee trips as a self-service, as well as a streamlined and swift digital approval process seamlessly regulated with pre-configured internal travel policies.

“With real-time tracking of booking requests, Elaa 3.0 serves as a revolutionary product in the travel market sector in the Kingdom,” a statement said.

Elaa’s highly secure and automated platform aims to redefine corporate and government travel for the new era. Elaa, meaning “trusted adviser” in Arabic, has activated a suite of internal training programs to familiarize customers on the new models that will be implemented.