RIYADH: A startup accelerator program backed by Sanabil Investments, a Riyadh-based investment firm wholly owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Californian venture capital firm 500 Startups, will stage its first showcase on July 7, it was revealed on Tuesday.
Announced in February, the Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Program is based in Riyadh and will consist of six programs run by 500 Startups over three years for a group of pre-seed and seed stage startups from throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
From around 500 applications, 14 startups from the MENA region, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine have been chosen to present their companies to an audience of potential investors.
The participating startups have completed a 12-week accelerator program and received funding of $100,000 each.
Bedy Yang, managing partner at 500 Startups and general partner of the Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Fund, said: “I was heartened to see the number of applications we received for our inaugural batch.
The quality and quantity of founders from Saudi Arabia and all over MENA who were eager to join the program was an indication of an ecosystem on an upward trajectory.”
The startups from Saudi Arabia taking part include Firnas Aero, a subscription-based drone service provider; Glance, an app designed to help hospitals deliver the right care faster; and Labayh, a mental health and well-being app for Arabic speakers.
Applications for the second batch of the Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Program are open now and the deadline is July 15.
500 Startups has run more than 50 accelerator programs in Silicon Valley and around the world, and invested in at least 2,500 companies worldwide, including in excess of 180 companies in the MENA region.
The Saudi Cabinet approved the establishment of the Saudi Arabian Investment Co. (Sanabil Investments) in 2008. A closed joint stock company with a paid-up capital of around SR20 billion ($5.33 billion), it is owned by the PIF and is a crucial part of the government’s Vision 2030 reform plan.