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Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center to Double Investments in Startups in Next 2-3 Years

JEDDAH: More than 600 applications from startups were received for Wa’ed, Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center, roadshows in different cities of the Kingdom. After the first and second roadshows, the third took place on Tuesday in Jeddah in partnership with King Abdullah University for Science and Technology.

Looking at the innovation ecosystem today, Fahad Alidi, CEO of Wa’ed, said he plans to double their investments over the next 2-3 years.

“There is no doubt that the roadshow was a great success. We had over 600 brilliant applications throughout the roadshow. This leaves us extremely impatient for the next stops; we stop in Riyadh, then later in Medina, then we will finalize our roadshow in Mecca, ”he told Arab News.

“But the roadshow is just the start of a long-term relationship with us and the entrepreneurs. We help them develop their startups not only in Saudi Arabia but across borders. A partnership with Wa’ed is access to major infrastructures and to our network. We support them throughout their journey as they grow up, ”he added.

He said the centre’s investment strategy is driven by quality, profitability and impact on the Kingdom’s innovation system. “We are constantly on the lookout for original ideas and products that meet the critical needs of people. We don’t team up just for profit. We join forces to grow.

He said that Wa’ed is focusing on five high impact strategic areas; sustainable, social, digital, industrial and manufacturing development.

“Sustainability and the social are driven by a deep sense of responsibility we have towards the environment and society. Digital due to the massive digital transformation that the Kingdom is going through, while industry and manufacturing are two essential pillars in the history of the Kingdom’s economic development, ”he said.

Hattan Ahmad, director of the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center, said KAUST aspires to be the entrepreneurial destination for deep tech startups from here and abroad.

He said that next year, the center aims to increase its open online courses with the goal of reaching 100,000 learners. “We are also expanding our flagship accelerator TAQADAM, in partnership with SABB, to Saudi Arabia and to new markets in the MENA region,” he told Arab News.

The KAUST Entrepreneurship Center is dedicated to developing talent through a variety of programs, including an edX course called Entrepreneurship Adventures which has attracted over 71,000 learners, bootcamps, hackathons and innovation challenges, as well as courses academic programs offered to KAUST students.

“The Center supports the founders to support their career paths and invest in startups and connect them to industrial players and ecosystem players,” he said.

He added, “KAUST’s entrepreneurship model is built around creating a knowledge exchange area connecting startups, industry and government to support founders on their journey and create impact.

Mohammed Al-Humali, Saudi doctor and healthcare consultant and co-founder of Mawidy, a startup that harnesses new technologies and artificial intelligence to improve healthcare services, explained how the Center has supported his business.

Mawidy won first place in a roadshow competition and received a cash prize of SR 75,000. “Wa’ed has provided us with this platform to encourage entrepreneurship and provided us with the mentorship and guidance we need as a startup,” he said.

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