KAUST and Monsha’at sign partnership to advance Saudi economy by creating opportunities for SMEs

KAUST has announced the signing of an MoU with Monsha’at and a membership to the KAUST Industry Collaboration Program (KICP) on March 27, 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The exciting development will formalize ongoing collaborations while also providing a framework for advancing the entrepreneurship and SME ecosystem in the Kingdom.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are paramount to establishing sustainable economies, and therefore, KAUST is partnering with Monsha’at to support Saudi SMEs. Monsha’at is Saudi Arabia’s leading government organization that aims to champion, regulate and develop the growing SME sector. The partnership solidifies the goals of both entities to help advance development, spur job growth, enhance local competition and contribute to the diversification of the economy.

SMEs are a central pillar to Vision 2030. The Kingdom is aiming to increase SME GDP contributions to an ambitious 35 percent by the 2030 benchmark. As a result, KAUST has created a new SME services department which focuses on training and consultancy.

A new program, KAUST SME Maharat helps small and medium organizations develop technical skills in vital areas such as AI, IoT, intellectual property and design thinking. The program has seen over 1,300 small business professionals enroll in the last two years. Additionally, a new Knowledge Partnership Program also seeks to transfer knowledge from KAUST’s research and innovation base to SMEs through consultancy.

Entrepreneurship is central to KAUST’s innovation mission and the university has a long track record of supporting entrepreneurs at all stages – from idea through to acceleration and investment. This shared vision for successful enterprise by the university and Monsha’at is culminating in a slate of programs all geared to transform the SME sector into an engine for economic growth.

“Startups and SMEs play a key role in advancing the Kingdom’s 2030 vision for private sector growth,” said Sami Sarhan, head of Industry Engagement at KAUST. “Our mission is to develop this entrepreneurship ecosystem – and we are seeing incredible collaboration between startups, investors, industry and government. This agreement with Monsha’at will play a key role in rapidly advancing entrepreneurship and enabling greater collaboration and innovation.”

Through the new framework, Monsha’at will select and evaluate SMEs that may benefit from programs at KAUST. Those chosen will have access to the university’s vast academic resources, state-of-the-art laboratories, scientific collaboration and research, data collection, and more.

The MoU also certifies KAUST as a service provider to the Monsha’at Academy Program for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Scaling Up Enterprises. Monsha’at will also allocate a space for KAUST at their support centers around the kingdom.

By coming together with Monsha’at, KAUST is once again proving itself a destination for innovation and a provider of resources for enterprises of all sizes. SMEs of the present and future now have the means for advancing development and making a lasting, positive impact on the economic fabric of the Kingdom.