KAUST to launch second round of Destination Deep Tech program

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Updated 13 September 2022

KAUST to launch second round of Destination Deep Tech program

KAUST to launch second round of Destination Deep Tech program

RIYADH: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology will begin the second round of its Destination Deep Tech program in the coming months, said a senior official.

The university has started accepting applications for the second round.

The Destination Deep Tech is a three-month program that provides deep-tech startups with the ecosystem to explore opportunities and expand in Saudi Arabia.

“Destination Deep Tech is an unprecedented Saudi program intended to foster innovation in the country,” Kevin Cullen, KAUST’s vice president of innovation, told Arab News.

The first round, which concluded in May, selected five international startups: Pasqal from France, Insignes-Labs from Poland, Proteinea from Egypt, Hopu from Spain and CeEntek from Singapore.

These deep-tech startups showed significant growth during the program’s three-month period, during which they established meaningful collaborative partnerships.

“We expected one or two would stay, but all five stayed,” said Cullen at the program’s conclusion.

The program provided the selected startups with the tools to expand their projects, including access to world-class research and development facilities at KAUST.

“What we were able to offer them is access to the biggest and the most dynamic market in the entire region,” he said.

The program was launched at KAUST in partnership with The Next Web, an international media organization that supports and connects the global technology environment through media, conferences and innovation services.

“We’ve got a technology seed fund so they can apply for funding, but it’s not part of the prize,” said Cullen.

He added that KAUST does not target any specific industry sector.

“We’ve got energy, materials and quantum computing startups so far. So, we are not specifically targeting any particular industry sector. What we are targeting are high potential technology startups,” Cullen said.

Besides the startup program, he said KAUST is also training prospective entrepreneurs to join the community. Called Entrepreneurship Adventures, the innovative program targets Arabic-speaking youth in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

According to Cullen, the program plans to create a startup culture and equip Arab youth with the necessary tools to contribute to their economies.

“Eighty percent of the content is in Arabic because we are keen as KAUST to be reaching out to the Kingdom,” he said.

The project was launched in 2021 by Saudi Arabian Oil Co. President and CEO Amin Nasser, Olayan Financing Co. CEO Lubna Olayan and Andrew Liveris, former CEO and chairman of the Michigan operations of Dow Chemical Co., Cullen added.

“We had an initial target of 10,000 young Arabs signing up for this. Within one month, we had 71,000 signed up for this and it’s now over 100,000,” he said.