2019 was a year of incredible growth for the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center and Innovation Fund. Thousands of innovators walked through our doors to find creative solutions to hundreds of challenges. Our portfolio of 120+ startups were also busy: closing deals, hiring employees and raising investment.
As the year comes to a close, we look back on some of our proudest entrepreneurship moments from 2019.
127 Active KAUST Startups
2019 was a busy year for KAUST startups who closed important investment deals, grew their client base, hired more talent and won prizes around the globe. Some 2019 highlights:
- Major investments for Sadeem, UnitX and Red Sea Farms totaling $6.5M.
- KAUST startups took top prizes globally: Red Sea Farms placed 3rd at the Entrepreneurship World Cup, OrbitCrops won 2nd at Startup Istanbul and Sadeem took 1st at Startup Germany.
- FalconViz was listed as a Top 100 MENA Startup by the World Economic Forum and collaborated with Mobily and Ericsson to bring 5G drone tech to Hajj.
Each year we host multiple programs on-campus at KAUST and around the Kingdom to challenge young people and empower them through ideation and business training. This year we worked with partners like GACA, Northrup Grumman and Elm as well as students from over 21 Saudi universities. Some 2019 highlights:
- 340 teams tackling problems facing the world today in ideation challenges across the Kingdom.
- 28 tech startups graduated from KAUST’s TAQADAM Accelerator in partnership with SABB. Meet the 6 winners who took home $100k each.
- Babar Khan named 2019 ‘Innovator Under 35’ for his innovative water solutions by MIT Tech Review.
28 Innovative Collaborations
Our mission is driven by problem-solving and finding solutions for the challenges facing Saudi Arabia and the world today. Each year we work with innovative partners to go beyond the walls of the university and help spark ideas that can create real change. Some 2019 highlights:
- Saudi Arabia’s first self-driving vehicles in partnership with LMI and Easy Mile launched on-campus at KAUST.
- 200 innovators hacked the future at JUNCTIONxKAUST with NEOM and Microsoft.
- Saudi’s Tech Champions trained in support of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
- Misk and KAUST signed an agreement to train and empower young leaders.
Startups in the News
Entrepreneurship is embedded into our DNA as a university and part of our innovation mission is to help grow a startup ecosystem in Saudi Arabia. Over the last decade we have supported hundreds of startups in our programs and are proud to see them shining globally. Some 2019 highlights:
KAUST Startups Featured on MBC Shabab Hub:
- Yara Aldrees of Carbon CPU discussed innovative food-waste solutions.
- Mustafa Mousa talked flooding in KSA and his startup Sadeem.
- Saad Qotobi talked about his journey after taking 2nd place in JUNCTIONxKAUST.
- Manar Al-Omayri, CEO and founder of Dhad, an Arabic audiobooks startup, talked shifting perceptions about entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia. Read the full story on Wired Middle East
- ‘Startup of the Week’ from Arab News featured UnitX, Wayakit, NOMADD, Sadeem, FalconViz, Red Sea Farms and iyris.