RIYADH: The Saudi Data and AI Authority has launched an accelerator program to support domestic startups and attract international talent to the Kingdom.
It aims to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem, diversify the Saudi economy and enhance digital transformation in order to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.
The SDAIA announced that the program is now open for registration in its first edition, which will focus on smart cities through an intensive three-month training course in Riyadh.
The accelerator program will undergo three phases. In the first phase, startups will register and face selection for a Challenge Day, where projects and innovative solutions will be reviewed. Ten startups will be chosen as part of the second phase.
In the final phase, the chosen startups will enter the three-month accelerator program, which includes training workshops, events and incentives, ending with a Demo Day. The participating startups will showcase their projects developed during the program to potential investors to obtain financial support.
SDAIA President Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi said: “At SDAIA, we work to enhance the accelerator ecosystem in the Kingdom by targeting local and international startups in the field of data and AI. We are determined to place the Kingdom at the forefront of data and AI-enabling countries.”
He added that the program was helped through the “unlimited support” provided by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the chairman of the SDAIA board of directors, Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
Al-Ghamdi encouraged innovators with creative data and AI-based solutions to join the program, develop unique solutions designed to serve smart cities, and contribute to elevating the Kingdom’s ranking in indicators to become among the top five countries in the world in the field of AI.
Dr. Mishari Almishari, deputy director of the National Information Center and CEO of the Strategy Management Office at SDAIA, said: “The accelerator program is one of SDAIA’s initiatives in cooperation with Plug and Play, to accelerate startup growth in the field of data and AI.”
He added: “The accelerator aims to support the success and growth of startups by enhancing their networking and exchange of ideas through co-working spaces, incentives, training to acquire necessary skills, as well as communication with potential investors and opportunities that facilitate access to the market.”
Almishari said that the accelerator’s support to startups will continue for candidates who pass the program.
Saeed Amidi, CEO and founder of Plug and Play, said: “This is an exciting and perfectly timed opportunity for us as the Saudi economy is undergoing massive economic developments in alignment with Vision 2030, and a big part of that plan focuses on boosting the Kingdom’s startup ecosystem with a supportive regulatory framework and local venture funds. Plug and Play is proud to host an accelerator program in Saudi Arabia. We have acquired a strong associate in the SDAIA, which adds value and reinforces our confidence in the execution of this project.”