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KAUST Innovation Fund

The KAUST Innovation Fund aims to grow an innovation and technology investment community and to attract international investors and VCs to the emerging Saudi technology ecosystem.

KAUST makes venture capital investments in high-tech startups from seed (less than $200,000) to early-stage (up to $2 million) and becomes a long-term strategic partner of these ventures.

Investment approach

The Innovation Fund makes equity investments in startups and early-stage companies and allows KAUST to become a shareholder with a clear stake in the company’s success, providing ongoing operational support. Where possible, we complement internal funds with co-investments by key local partners. We follow standard VC terms, including investment protection and board representation, for all companies we support.

While seed funding models may be appropriate in some cases, we believe that equity investments are the best fit for the Kingdom’s relatively young innovation ecosystem. In time, we hope to transition to an independent VC funding model, in which we become a permanent actor in the technology financing ecosystem in the region.

Investment criteria

The most important factors in determining whether the KAUST Innovation Fund will invest in a startup includes a large potential market, a superior product/technology, a strong team and a clear business plan. The Fund also assesses the extent to which the startup’s technology is aligned with KAUST’s main research areas and its potential impact on the region in terms of job creation and solutions to specific local problems.

The Fund’s main investments focus on:

  • KAUST internal startup projects: Teams working on entrepreneurial projects related to KAUST areas of excellence.
  • KAUST early-stage companies: KAUST startup projects that have gone through the incorporation process and need additional funding.
  • Spin-ins: International early-stage high-tech companies interested in establishing R&D activities at KAUST.

Before applying

Protect the intellectual property
Before making any public disclosure or communication of your innovation, we encourage you to talk with the KAUST Technology Transfer Office to disclose and protect your inventions.

Create the business plan
Before you can apply for funding for your startup idea, you need to create a business plan.

To create the most complete, coherent and compelling business plan, we recommend participating in one of the many entrepreneurship training and acceleration programs offered at KAUST.

Submitting your business plan

Once you have a fully developed business plan, you can submit it anytime to be considered for funding.

Beacon I Fund

KAUST and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB), in collaboration with Anfaal Capital, have signed an agreement to work together to establish a Saudi Arabia focused venture capital fund.

The Beacon I Fund will be a Sharia compliant venture capital fund investing in innovative early-stage companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

More information on Beacon I is available here.