COVID-19 Challenge

KAUST Community COVID-19 Innovation Challenge

For all of us here at KAUST, the Coronavirus is changing many things in the ways we live and work. In both the short and even long-term, the virus is reshaping society as we know it – with our community rapidly searching for new ways to stay safe and healthy. This crisis presents an opportunity to develop new approaches, products, services or ways of operating.

The Challenge

In March 2020, we launched the COVID-19 Innovation Challenge to tap into the massive brainpower that is KAUST – meaning everyone in the KAUST Community. We wanted to hear from you about your experience: what’s working well, what isn’t working and what’s missing?

Challenge areas


Education challenges and opportunities during coronavirus

Discover Challenge

Social Connectivity

Staying connected while isolated during coronavirus

Discover Challenge

Community Management

Community challenges and opportunities during crises

Discover Challenge

Open Challenge

What other challenges have you identified or ideas do you have?

Discover Challenge

The Finalists 

The community response was remarkable, with just over 100 project ideas submitted. All submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges from across KAUST. Learn more about the final 6 projects.

Who can participate?

The Challenges was open to everyone in the KAUST community – primary school students, parents, staff, higher ed students, faculty, service providers and more. We hope that you will connect (virtually!) with your classmates, teachers, friends and family to come up with new and innovative ideas.

How does it work?

Applications open: March 26, 2020

Applications close: April 4, 2020 (Applications are now closed)

Final pitches: June 14, 2020

Final pitches happening June 14th at 12:00pm – register here.

Webinar recording from March 30, 2020 is available here.

What happens next?

Projects were reviewed by a panel of 16 judges from across the university over two rounds. More information about the judging criteria is available here. Finalists then pitch live to KAUST University leadership and the Community. Winning pitches will receive up to $20,000 USD in prize funding. Each finalist will have 6 months to prototype and get their product into market.

The KAUST Entrepreneurship Center, Technology Transfer teams and other departments from KAUST will be supporting projects as they go to market. Additional funding opportunities available and we can fast-track access to the TAQADAM Accelerator for selected ideas.