RIYADH: The Global Entrepreneurship Network plans to establish its first overseas office in Saudi Arabia, GEN founder and president Jonathan Ortmans told Arab News.
The GEC, which concluded on March 30, recorded investments worth almost $8 billion on its second day alone.
The founder of the organization, which provides a platform for new firms and entrepreneurs to start and scale up their businesses, wants to work towards developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Saudi Arabia.
“What’s important for us is chapter two of GEN. So chapter one was leading up to the GEC. Chapter two is, we will be registering as a company and establishing ourselves in Saudi Arabia,” said Ortmans.
Talking about Saudi’s evolving entrepreneurial ecosystem, he said there is a very sophisticated understanding of the dynamics of what it means to build and create a company here.
“An even more world-class level of sophistication on behalf of the investors, all of these funds, I see that they’re very smart about how they’re going about it,” he said.
Acknowledging Saudi’s rising entrepreneurial ecosystem, Ortmans added, “I think Saudi Arabia is not just leapfrogging other ecosystems. You’re pole-vaulting over them.”
The GEN founder elaborated: “We hope to be contributing to this great effort that’s underway here in the Kingdom, to be able to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Jonathan Ortmans speaking to Arab News
Ortmans, who launched GEN’s initiative, Global Entrepreneurship Week in 2008 alongside former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, explained that the GEC 2022 took place in Riyadh to show the world what is really happening in the Kingdom.
He added that this is a “critical moment in history,” and as Saudi Arabia is embracing entrepreneurship and innovation “we wanted to come here to be part of Saudi Arabia’s support to entrepreneurs.”
In terms of growth areas, Ortmans highlighted the importance of the space sector in the Kingdom, calling it a “huge opportunity for astropreneurs.”
“Startups that are focusing on products and services as a result of the lower cost of getting to space and back. We think that’s going to be one of the most important sectors.”
He added there is no nation on earth that owns that right now. “We’re actually trying to foster through our GEN space initiative, actually a global collaborative way to do that (in Saudi Arabia) which has never been done before.”
In partnership with the Misk Foundation and Monshaat, GEN will host its Entrepreneurship World Cup competition this year in the Kingdom, as Saudi Arabia has been hosting the finals of the competition for the past four years.