RIYADH: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology has an innovation fund program that invests in high-tech firms in seed stages.
The idea is to allocate up to $200,000 as venture capital in seed-level high-tech businesses, and to invest up to $2 million in early stage businesses, while becoming a strategic partner in these firms.
The most important factors in determining whether the KAUST Innovation Fund will invest in a startup include a large potential market, a superior product/technology, a strong team and a clear business plan.
The fund also assesses the extent to which the startup’s technology is aligned with KAUST’s main research areas and its potential impact on the region in terms of job creation and solutions to specific local problems.
KAUST is interested in investing in promising new high-tech companies as well as becoming a major shareholder in the same firm if it progressed and developed.
In addition, KAUST provides operational assistance to these new firms.
Furthermore, the fund program supplements internal finances with co-investments from significant local partners.
According to KAUST, all the funded firms are subject to normal VC requirements, such as investment protection and board participation.
Last month, the Vice President of KAUST Kevin Cullen told Arab News in the Global Entrepreneurship Congress that took place in Riyadh that the company aims to further improve its community of innovative businesses
“KAUST has allocated an annual investment fund of SR30 million ($8 million) and is currently placing a SR750 million fund to scale up the amount of investment. We can put (investments) into these technology opportunities to accelerate the development,” he said.
The KAUST Innovation Fund intends to expand the innovation and technology investment community.
It will also attract foreign investors and venture capitalists to Saudi Arabia's burgeoning technology ecosystem.
Kevin Cullen believes that KAUST’s funding will encourage technology companies to invest in Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, the university released its first-ever "open online course" at the end of 2021, which was developed by the innovation department, which focuses on entrepreneurship rather than academics.
Commenting on this course, Cullen stated that “KAUST had a target of getting 10,000 young Saudis signed up in the first year. However, within the first month, we already had 71,000 subscribers."
The university’s ambition is to develop the Kingdom’s innovation economy and focus more on the development of technology sector in the country.