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Startup of the Week: Saudi fashion label “Anonymous” newest trendsetter

Time: January 22, 2019

  • Inspired by cultural diversity, their fashion line showcases a unique blend of Arabic, Japanese and Sanskrit elements and depictions.
  • The expression “art imitates life” rings particularly true for “Anonymous.”

JEDDAH: “Anonymous” is a Saudi fashion label that features a unique and creative twist on streetwear fashion.

The brand offers clients an exclusive and artistic style of streetwear to complement their strong personalities and expressive fashion sense. They launched their first collection in October 2018. It featured a range of 100 percent cotton unisex T-shirts.

Each product is uniquely crafted and designed in Saudi Arabia, and includes a range of graphics, calligraphy, and hand-painted motifs.

The expression “art imitates life” rings particularly true for “Anonymous.” Most of their products are artsy at its core. Inspired by cultural diversity, their fashion line showcases a unique blend of Arabic, Japanese and Sanskrit elements and depictions. It is this unconventional creative approach to their product line that has seen them surge in popularity in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

When asked what her fashion label aspires to offer, the brand’s founder Mariam N. simply stated: “The freedom of choice it offers each individual to express themselves. Anonymous is for the mystics, poets, lovers, and dreamers. For all those who believe. Celebrating our rich diversity and what binds us together; Anonymous resonates with unconditional love. People can shed their inhibitions, feel free and wear what they can connect with — emphasizing inspiration, and the primacy of the individual.”

There is no doubt that our individual personalities are constantly being expressed every day through our fashion sense. After all, like the cars we drive and the music we listen to, our clothes are, in some way, an extension of ourselves. A fragment of our current or permanent disposition that we project outwardly using the creative vehicle of fashion as that outlet. Streetwear labels such as “Anonymous” contribute to precisely that.

The design method behind Anonymous is a symphony of culture, philosophy, and creative perspective. Using the universal power of words, their debut collection frequently features a singular word or phrase that artistically merges with intriguing painting depictions. Their unapologetic attention to detail and exclusivity ensures each fashion piece is personally exclusive to the individual with only a limited production line for each design. This intentional and uncommercialized approach is allowing a generation of creative and artistic individuals to boldly express themselves.

“I feel like this is one of the most inspiring eras — perhaps which is why it is the best time to introduce new ideas. People have moved beyond the cliched and ordinary. The brand is inspired by the mystique of underlying unity in cultural diversity. You will see a variety of languages in each piece showcasing how they beautifully come together and complement each other yet retain their own unique identity. It’s something that appeals to different mindsets.” Mariam added.

For Saudi Arabia, their fashion line can be found at Homegrown Market, Crate, and Amkana in Jeddah.

For the UAE: You can catch them at General 3am, Design District, Building 6, Dubai.

Follow them on Instagram at: www.instagram.com/a.for.a for their latest product features.

This article was first published in Arab News

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King’s new initiative to empower small income groups

Time: January 09, 2019  

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman speaks to Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadli during the launch of the Sustainable Rural Agricultural Development Program at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Wednesday. — SPA

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman launched the Sustainable Rural Agricultural Development Program, which targets eight promising business sectors, at a ceremony held at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The King watched a video presentation, highlighting the salient features of the Program and its target sectors. The Program is part of the Kingdom’s strategy to optimize its resources, improve the income of small farmers, provide jobs, and achieve food security and balanced development.

Speaking on the occasion, King Salman expressed happiness over the competence of Saudis in all fields.

“This is a great blessing from Almighty Allah that the availability of all means of education in schools, universities and colleges across the country, that makes the Kingdom attain self-sufficiency by its citizens. But the greatest blessing is the security and stability in our country that made the work proceed smoothly in every field,” the Monarch said.

He noted that the greatest one of all the blessings is that the Kingdom is the land of the Two Holy Mosques. “Like any other members of the Royal Family and our citizens, I have the honor to be the servant of the Two Holy Mosques,” he said.

The Program targets the following eight sectors — production, manufacturing and marketing of Arab coffee; beekeeping and production of honey; development of cultivation of rose and aromatic plants; production, manufacturing and marketing of fruits; enhancement of the capacities of small fishermen and fish farmers; development of the sector of small livestock breeders; cultivation of rain fed crops, as well as the enhancement of the revenues of small holdings and agricultural activities.

Delivering a speech on the occasion, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadli said that the program is one of the fruits of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 which seeks to achieve a balanced economic and social development among various segments of the society through the optimal and sustainable exploitation of renewable natural, agricultural and hydrological resources in several phases, of which the first phase starts today and the program will continue until the year 2025.

Last September, King Salman issued a royal decree approving the adoption of the Sustainable Rural Agricultural Development Program to support farmers in various regions of the Kingdom, with financial allocations amounting to SR7.35 billion for a period of seven years in addition to SR1.5 billion as the capital cost for the project.

Later, the Agricultural Development Fund allocated about SR 3 billion to finance the Program.

Al-Fadli said that farmers and their families across the Kingdom greeted the Program with joy due to its social and economic benefits, which exceed the allocated financial investments.

“The Program, through its eight sectors, would help empower small producers in the fields of agriculture, livestock breeding, fishing and production of honey through tapping opportunities and resources with the objective of diversifying agricultural production base in the rural regions,” the minister added.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette

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Workshop to support SMEs for new opportunities in KSA

Time: January 07, 2019

The workshop also debated methods to enable small investors and businesses to flourish as part of the program. (SPA)
  • The workshop also debated methods to enable small investors and businesses to flourish as part of the program, from logistics to financing, and effective marketing

JEDDAH: The Asharqia Chamber held an “Exploring Opportunities in Small and Medium Industrial Enterprises” workshop, as part of the “Nasnaa” (We Produce) program.
Organized in partnership with petrochemical manufacturer SABIC at the Asharqia headquarters in Dammam, it discussed developments in the Kingdom that might affect the Vision 2030 program, from the plastic, beauty and health industries to the military.
The workshop also debated methods to enable small investors and businesses to flourish as part of the program, from logistics to financing, and effective marketing.
The chamber had already held an introductory lecture for the Nasnaa program, dedicated to startups and industrial projects still in their early stages, to highlight the services and schemes available to them, as well as providing guidance on legal matters, licensing and human resources.
The program itself will last for another 3 months. Candidates who are accepted follow a 200-hour training curriculum, led by qualified and experienced professionals and industry experts, with the expressed goal of mentoring and passing on advice and experience to enrich up–and–coming individuals to maximize their and their industry’s potential.

This article was first published in Arab News

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‘Bold capital’: SMEs’ key role in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 highlighted

Time: November 24, 2018      

Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a key partner in national development. (Shutterstock photo)
  • Ministry of Finance Undersecretary Tariq Al-Shohaib cites importance of SMEs within the private sector
  • Al-Shohaib also says a privatization program also encouraged the private sector to own or manage state-owned assets and to take over public services

JEDDAH: Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were a pillar of Saudi Arabia’s economy, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance Tariq Al-Shohaib told an investment forum organized by the Eastern Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Al-Shohaib’s comments came during a panel discussion on “The Role of Financial Policies, Regulations and Programs in support of Venture Capital Investments” held as part of the Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises Forum and Exhibition 2018, under the patronage of Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz.

The forum was held at the chamber’s headquarters in cooperation with the Eastern Region under the theme of “Bold Capital Portal for Empowerment.”

During the discussion session, Al-Shohaib highlighted the importance of SMEs within the private sector, and described their contribution as a “key pillar for the national economy and GDP.”

SMEs were a key partner in the national development and the private sector, and were supported and empowered by the government, represented by the Ministry of Finance, he said.

Stimulus packages of up to SR200 billion ($53 billion) had been put in place until 2020 under the Fiscal Balance Program, one of the central initiatives for realizing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reforms.

A privatization program also encouraged the private sector to own or manage state-owned assets and to take over public services currently provided directly by the government.

Other government initiatives to strengthen the private sector included the national industrial development program, logistics for industry development, and boosting local content in sectors such as renewable energy, military industries, exports and mining, Al-Shohaib said.

“These programs will help the Kingdom to become an industrial and logistics platform on three continents, and will create jobs for citizens,” he said.

 

Al-Shohaib said that support was not limited to initiatives and programs, but extended to digital systems and services, such as the new government procurement and competition system.

The system, which is subject to review and endorsement, gives priority to local content and SMEs by providing a mandatory proportion of the value of the contract. A digital financial platform, Etimad, gives SMEs the chance to take part in competition and procurement, and increases transparency and consolidates procedures.

Al-Shohaib said the Ministry of Finance supported government agencies through budgets and allocation of funds for projects to help implement Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives and projects.

A local lending program supported Vision 2030 by providing funding for the private sector and encouraging investment in service projects throughout the Kingdom.

Since the start of the program, more than 700 development projects worth SR11 billion has been financed.

The Small and Medium Enterprises Forum and Exhibition 2018 attracted specialists, economists, investors and interested observers, and offered those working in the SME sector an insight into venture capital funding of investments in the field.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia’s Monshaat opens SMEs support center

Time: November 23, 2018      

Monshaat support center is giving Saudi professionals the chance to enhance their professional skills. (Photo/Shutterstock)
  • It connects “beneficiaries” with freelance professionals to meet inside the support center in Riyadh
  • The open offices is where the consultants who enrolled in the consultancy program attend to provide specialized advice in areas such as strategic planning, operations, marketing and sales, legal and technology

RIYADH: The Monshaat support center for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) provides a package of three programs in cooperation with the public/private sectors to develop entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs facing daily challenges to their growth.

It connects “beneficiaries” with freelance professionals to meet inside the support center in Riyadh.

“We provide in the SMEs’ support center three main programs (training, advisory and mentorship); currently we serve more than 1,000 SMEs and entrepreneurs,” Monshaat said in a statement. “Also, we will be across the country soon with new programs customized to each region.”

The center is a well-designed offline platform that provides offices to meet in. The customer journey starts with meeting a business support consultant located within the center who identifies customer needs and assigns them to the most suitable program provided by scheduling a session in one or more of the three programs.

While there are many other initiatives to increase SMEs contribution to GDP by 35 percent in aligning with Vision 2030, Monshaat plays a different role through meeting the strategic and technical requirements for a business to start and grow.

The open offices is where the consultants who enrolled in the consultancy program attend to provide specialized advice in areas such as strategic planning, operations, marketing and sales, legal and technology.

Deema Al-Juhaimi, a freelance consultant registered with the Monshaat support center program to provide technical advice for startup founders and small enterprises, said: “As a consultant, I enlisted in the consultancy program last month when its first launched. During my 30-minute session, I found out that most of the clients’ business ages vary from startups to a small business. For now, clients mostly look for electronic solutions that can speed up and cut operational costs, or to move from offline to virtual sales.”

While the mentorship program includes a team of experienced professionals who work part-time to provide practical advice and guidance to beneficiaries during a face-to-face session, the training program model offers a number of courses as part of the comprehensive qualification program for capacity building of entrepreneurs and existing SMEs.

“We have two trainings programs weekly as well as different workshops daily, and four to nine advisers (in all topics, changed every day based on the client’s need) available daily (Sun-Thu).”

Although Monshaat support center is still in its very early stages, it is giving Saudi professional the chance to enhance their leadership skills and provide support to the SME community, and it is expected that the number of enlisted experts and support seekers will increase due to the boom of entrepreneurship in KSA while meeting the Monshaat objective of building a competitive economic system that ensures the sustainability and prosperity of SMEs.

As a result, the support center is expected to significantly contribute to the birth of start-ups and to escalate businesses’ growth through strategic approaches and well-executed plans to ensure sustainability.

This article was first published in Arab News

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BIAC highlights Saudi startup drive at Web Summit

Time: November 08, 2018   

Saudi Arabia’s Business Incubators and Accelerators Company (BIAC) highlighted the kingdom’s expertise and support for technology start-ups and entrepreneurs at Web Summit 2018, a top influential technology event.

A subsidiary of the Saudi Development and Technical Investment Company (Taqnia), took part in  Europe’s largest tech event, held at Lisbon, Portugal, from November 4 to 8.

Participating in a roundtable discussion on “Investing in Mena – the Challenges and Opportunities” at Web Summit 2018, BIAC emphasized on the government legislation and its numerous initiatives that are a catalyst in fostering and creating a world-class entrepreneurship-friendly ecosystem in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Furthermore, BIAC shared details of its various services and achievements in the area of technical entrepreneurship, and its role in implementing the Saudi Vision 2030, an initiative through which the Kingdom aspires to diversify its productive base, enhance its competitiveness and accelerate transformation to a knowledge-based economy.

Nawaf Al-Sahhaf, chief executive officer of BIAC Company, commented: “BIAC’s participation in Web Summit 2018 gave us the privilege of sharing the initiatives of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in enabling and supporting start-ups to launch their businesses by taking advantage of the innovative services provided by government agencies and specialized business incubators.”

In the past three years, the Kingdom has seen a surge in start-up accelerators, and incubators for technology companies, as many government and non-profit organizations, are directly or indirectly supporting the Saudi entrepreneurs. The Kingdom has over 40 business incubators and several accelerator programs, half of which of have some form of government affiliation.

“The ever-growing startup ecosystem in the Kingdom has created a conducive environment for innovation, contributing significantly to the economy. There have been many high-value deals in the local startup space helping them grow even stronger. As a result, investors are showing confidence in the ecosystem by throwing their support behind startups,” added Al-Sahhaf.

Al-Sahhaf stated that start-ups in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stand in a better position to succeed than ever, given the growing positive sentiment and optimism in the industry, despite challenges.

This article was first published in Trade Arabia

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Saudi Arabia invests in startups to achieve Vision 2030 objective

Time: October 19, 2018   

A new age is dawning in the Kingdom as KSA startups work on developing AI solutions. (AFP)
  • Young entrepreneurs are expected to play a key role as the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) tries to boost foreign direct investment
  • Saudi Arabia is aiming to be in the top 20 countries measured by ease of doing business by 2020

DUBAI: The Kingdom has been investing heavily in startups as Saudi Arabia focuses on growing its economy to achieve its Vision 2030 objective of moving away from dependency on oil.
Young entrepreneurs are expected to play a key role as the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) tries to boost foreign direct investment.
“Value impact is very important,” said Dr. Mazin Al-Zaidi, head of innovation and entrepreneurship at SAGIA. “These startups, being able to establish themselves in the Kingdom will have a value impact.”
The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is hatching different technologies. Its flagship program, the TAQADAM Startup Accelerator — a partnership with the Saudi British Bank, is a six-month intensive program to help scientists create valuable technologies quickly.
“We’ve seen really good outcomes in terms of specific technologies, such as in energy or artificial intelligence in the last two cohorts,” said Hattan Ahmed, entrepreneurship collaboration manager in Innovation and Economic Development at KAUST.
“They are resolving some key challenges, not just for Saudi Arabia but the world.” Another startup developed laser lights to help crops grow indoors, he added.
Last year, Sadeem Wireless Sensing Systems — a KAUST IP-based startup — won the Global Startup Award at Gitex Future Stars. It describes itself as an “urban real-time flood monitoring system to save lives.”
“It addressed the key challenges in deploying smart city solutions to provide informative analytics to allow decision-makers to control floods in cities,” Ahmed said.
“The key challenge is for entrepreneurs to take a technology and explore creative ways of deploying it in non-obvious ways.”
The government is making it easier for startups in the Kingdom. “When it comes to entrepreneurship, startups and technologies being developed, it’s difficult if you don’t have the connections,” said Mohammed Almajed, adviser to the chairman of the board at the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (Taqnia). “With mega-projects, you need credibility, and there are lots of overheads that are impossible for startups to overcome unless there is a government-based company that can minimize the overheads.”

FASTFACTS

Disclosed funding for KSA-founded startups rose from $18.8 million in 2016 to $39.8 million in 2017.

Taqnia builds a supportive community for startups. “We’re capable of bringing partners together to solve one problem,” Almajed said. “If you’re alone, you’ll be swept away so we’re the network. We have our own ideas and market, and connections with research and development centers, product development centers, that will be accessible to those working with us.”
Saudi Arabia is aiming to be in the top 20 countries measured by “ease of doing business” by 2020. “This year, Saudi Arabia had the largest number of reforms in the region,” Al-Zaidi said. “For the environment to become healthy, a lot has to be done and we’re working on it. We’re heading in the right direction.”
Cura is one startup that promises to transform medical consultation in the Kingdom. It is the first platform in the Middle East planning to give people consultations with one of its 1,600 doctors using real-time chat and live video calls. It is also the tele-medicine provider for the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health, serving more than 300,000 citizens with 10 contact centers across the country and 400 doctors with around 3,000 virtual visits a day.
Wael Kabli, CEO of Cura, said: “Saudi Arabia wants to increase private sector contribution to the GDP. So they have to bring more companies into the economy and the best way to do that is through entrepreneurship.
“There has been a big movement happening since last year and we have a huge number of startups today,” he said. “A very good example is the increasing number of startups at Gitex this year in comparison with last year.”
Another example is Morni, an interactive mobile application to provide roadside assistance in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, a startup founded by Salman Al-Suhaibaney in 2015. “In Saudi Arabia, the number of SMEs is relatively higher than corporates — more than 90 percent of companies are SMEs,” said Al-Suhaibaney, Morni CEO. “But they’re not contributing more than 2 to 3 percent of GDP, so supporting these SMEs will contribute more to GDP.”
He said that supporting KSA tech businesses would be a great opportunity to further contribute to the Kingdom’s GDP and help achieve its Vision 2030 objectives. “There are a few entrepreneurs coming to Saudi Arabia now but we’re looking for high-impact entrepreneurs and we’re capitalizing on companies that could expand globally from the Kingdom,” he said.
According to MAGNiTT, a database for startup information across Middle East and North Africa, the region has seen continued growth in startups. Disclosed funding for KSA-founded startups rose from $18.8 million in 2016 to $39.8 million in 2017.
“There is a clear focus at all levels of governments and corporates on the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation in the Kingdom,” said Philip Bahoshy, founder of MAGNiTT.
“Innovation is a key driver of an economy’s diversification while also helping support employment. As one of the largest populations and economies in the region, the Kingdom is prime for the adoption of innovation to support the creation of efficiency for users and companies alike.”
So far this year $32.8 million has been invested, with 97.9 percent of annual growth of disclosed startup funding from 2014 to 2017 in Saudi Arabia. The trend is expected to continue, with more than 15 registered venture capitalists on the platform and more than 10 incubators and co-working spaces across the Kingdom.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Book review: Entrepreneurs share their secrets to success in Startup Arabia

August 18, 2018

Mona Ataya, founder of Mumzworld, was driven to do something relevant for the region Siddharth Siva for The National

The author’s dedication in the opening pages of Startup Arabia is “to anyone who dreamed of changing the world and decided to do something about it”.

As such, Amir Hegazi aims to inspire the next generation of technology entrepreneurs in the Middle East with the stories of and advice from the Arab world’s current crop of chief executives, founders and disruptors who are changing the economic landscape.

These 23 entrepreneurs have demonstrated their innovative approaches to solving problems, building businesses and providing services across a number of sectors from transport to fashion and retail, to logistics, music and networking.

They come from across the region, including Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait but predominantly the UAE, which Hegazi views as the new land of opportunity. He himself has experience as an entrepreneur with an online streaming platform and later worked at e-commerce company Souq.com.

Hegazi’s Startup Arabia follows in the traditions of the vivid and groundbreaking book Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East,

written by the American investor Christopher Schroeder, which also explores the “quiet revolution” of entrepreneurial spirit that has been going on these last few years.

Hegazi and Schroeder challenge the typical narrative as told in the United States and elsewhere, of the Middle East as a place of conflict and stagnation. While Schroeder’s book is written as narrative non-fiction and tells a kind of history of the start-up scene in the region, Hegazi has pitched his book almost as a reference resource, giving each of his subjects a full question and answer format in which to convey their experiences, wisdom and points of view.

“This book is meant to shed light on a few of those insightful and inspiring stories being created by remarkable tech entrepreneurs in the Middle East who refused to accept the status quo, managed to transcend cultural beliefs and limitations, and are now rewriting the region’s destiny,” Hegazi writes in his introduction.

The Q&A aspect makes the book easy to navigate, if you know which of the 23 you are keen to read about most, but also quite frustrating because not all are household names, so to speak, and the interviews would have benefited from some more of Hegazi’s frame of reference – leading the reader to and through each case study, with a linked narrative. Instead readers are left to connect the dots between each entrepreneur by themselves.

There are many patterns to be found, however. Pretty much a common feature of their stories is that their businesses emerged intact having passed through the crucible of fierce competition.

“There’s nothing like competition to get you running really, really fast,” says Mudassir Sheikha, the Pakistani co-founder of ride hailing platform Careem, which has taken on Uber.

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Read more:

Mumzworld founder eyes faster delivery and growth

Liwwa targets $240 billion SME finance gap in Middle East

Middle East’s e-commerce majors focus on grocery for growth

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Samih Toukan, who says he Arabised the computer game “Football Manager” when he was just 16 years old, right from the beginning fought off competition from a competitor backed by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal to the tune of $22 million (Dh80.7m). His online portal Maktoob had only $2m to play with, in contrast, but it was the one that was eventually bought by Yahoo! in 2009 for $164m.

Toukan is the daddy of the sector in the Middle East. His early efforts with Maktoob spawned Souq and also online payments company Payfort. The latter’s co-founder Omar Soudodi also features in Startup Arabia.

Last year, Amazon agreed to buy Souq.com for a figure reportedly in the region of $650m, representing the largest exit for a Middle East and North Africa start-up and creating real belief in what is happening in the region. Many of the entrepreneurs also have experience of working outside of the Middle East – often in the United States – and also, in different ways, felt the pull of wanting to be closer to home. There is a sense of a circle being completed with many of these characters.

As Mumzworld founder Mona Ataya says: “I was driven by the constant urge to do something relevant for the region I loved and was proud of.” She comes from a family of high-achieving entrepreneurs. Her brother Rabea Ataya, started Bayt.com, the jobs website, which was the reason Mona came back to the UAE. This is fundamentally the really exciting aspect of this collection of the experiences of these talented individuals.

They are building a whole new generation of corporate institutions that will have an influence well beyond profits, helping to develop the social fabric in the countries in which they operate.

Many of them were successful elsewhere and did not necessarily need to come to the Middle East for any other reason than they wanted their businesses to be here, to mean something more than just becoming another Silicon Valley winner.

They also, as the author intends, really do serve as inspiring examples for generations to come, who will see that they too can accomplish such things here at home.

In many ways those featured in this book are the pioneers that have made it easier for those to follow by building up the entrepreneurial ecosystem from scratch, setting the bar high and showing that money can be made from a host of concepts and ideas.

It is a liberation of sorts for the economies of the region that have traditionally been quite risk averse, making business challenging in terms of upward mobility and wealth creation.

This article was first published in  The National

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Saudi start-ups raise $3.110 million funding in 2nd quarter of 2018

Time : July 30, 2018

RIYADH – The technology start-ups incubated by the Badir Program, one of the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology initiatives, has successfully raised around SR11.660 million ($3.110 million) in the second quarter of 2018, up by 7.66% from the previous quarter when SR10.830 million ($2.888 million) was raised, according to a new report released by Badir Program.

After a relatively strong first quarter, the funding scene in Saudi Arabia was able to keep pace in the second quarter of 2018, showing strong signs of ecosystem growth in the Saudi market, according to the latest Badir report.

The report revealed that individual investors were the most active in terms of funding size, having pumped 7.450 million ($1.987 million) into Saudi startups across 4 deals in the second quarter. They were followed by venture capital firms with 2 deals reaching a combined total of 1.40 million ($373 thousand), the funding of the private sector companies reached to SR2.800 million ($747 thousand) approximately through 1 funding deal, while the volume of loans has not exceeded SR10,000 ($2,666).

The data showed that the total funding has been increased to SR150.951 million ($40.253 million) since the establishment of the Badir program in 2008 until the end of June 2018.

The analysis has revealed that the Individual investors have the biggest stake in Badir incubated start-ups since its inception in 2008 at SR60.9 million ($16.256 million), representing 40% of the total funding. The venture capital firms came in second with financial support to such companies at SR49.03 million ($13.074 million), corresponding to 32% of the total.

Badir report has shown that the funding of the private sector companies reached to SR32.842 million ($8.758 million) equivalent to 22% of the total, while funding by the governmental institutions shelled out about SR7.057 million ($1.881 million), while the volume of loans does not exceed SR1.06 million ($282,6 Thousand).

Currently, the number of Badir incubated technical start-ups increased by 18% to reach 228 companies at the end of June 2018, compared to 193 in 2017.

Commenting on the results, Nawwaf Al Sahhaf, CEO of Badir Program for Technology Incubators, said: “The Saudi startup industry is seeing bright prospects and it was more activity in the second half of 2018. I am very optimistic about this year as we will see the surge in more investments and opportunities in seed round and angel funding for most startups. Series A and Series B is also bullish of the ever-growing and expanding Saudi start-up industry.”

“With the increased awareness campaign for the Incubator programs, we were able to reap better results with more funding from the anticipated quarters. Saudi startups have a wide range of financing options as funding volumes in the Saudi market have increased steadily, with a lot of fresh money flowing into seed and early-stage companies,” Al-Sahhaf added.

Badir Program is one of the leading programs of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. The program was established in 2008 to improve and support technical entrepreneurship throughout the Kingdom by helping the strategic policy applied in entrepreneurship and incubators in collaboration with government agencies, universities and the private sector.

This article was first published in  Saudi Gazette

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Badir-incubated biotech start-ups raise $2.66m in 2017

Time: June 30, 2018

RIYADH — The Saudi biotech start-ups incubated by Badir Biotechnology Incubator, under the Badir program belonging to King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), has successfully raised close to SR10 million ($2.666 million) in new funding last year.

The funding deals were led by venture capital firms, individual investors’ networks, along with other governmental institutions. In detail, self-financing accounted for approximately 15% of the total amount of investment financing reaching about SR1.5 million. The share of government investment in these projects reached SR3.5 million, equivalent to 35% of the total investment and SR5 million for venture capital companies, which is equal to 50 % of the total amount of financing and investment.

Badir Biotechnology incubator was established in 2010 within the King Fahd Medical City complex in Riyadh. The incubator works to encourage and support the establishment and development of the biotechnology business sector, through assisting the commercialization of research projects as well as private sector biotechnology innovative products and services. Its aim is to create advanced medical services, support the localization and commercialization of biotechnology and contribute to the advancement of the health sector in the Kingdom.

Nawaf Al Sahhaf, CEO of Badir Program for Technology Incubators, said: “Badir Biotech Incubator aims to encourage and support the launch of new biotechnology projects. The Incubator hosts pioneering projects for researchers, technicians, and doctors in the fields of biotechnology and life sciences, such projects that have the potential to grow into promising and valuable companies in the Kingdom.”

Al-Sahhaf said: “The Biotech Incubator has received over 400 applications since its establishment, and it is currently incubating about 26 technical projects, all of which achieved sales of SR15 million and created more than 116 job opportunities to Saudi young people.”

He added: “We look forward to supporting biotech start-ups which have the basic factors that enable them to make quantitative changes in the main technology sectors. We expect a rise in the average of establishing and funding this type of companies in the coming years, especially following the adoption of new alternatives for offering flexible funding opportunities, hence assisting them in developing their investment plans and increasing their future expansions.”

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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