KAUST Partners with Misk for 2020 Entrepreneurship World Cup Competition

Media Release, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, October 12, 2020

For the second year in a row, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is partnering with Misk Global Forum (MGF) to support this year’s Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC). KAUST is providing a range of support, notably by hosting a bootcamp for the finalists ahead of the Global Finals that are taking place virtually as part of the MGF annual gathering, from October 18-20.

Four of the six Saudi startups among the top 100 startups competing in the global finals are from KAUST, a leading Saudi Arabian university with a commitment to fostering and growing an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Kingdom and the region. MGF is part of the Misk Foundation, a non-profit established by H.R.H. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to empower Saudi youth.

The EWC is the world’s largest and most diverse entrepreneurship competition and support program, attracting 175,000 startup applicants this year from 200 countries.

Now in its second year, the EWC in 2020 has attracted 15,000 applications from Saudi entrepreneurs, of which 15 were selected to pitch on the virtual stage at the Saudi National Finals, held on September 7, 2020. Judges at the event picked six companies for consideration for the Global Finals of the EWC. The top three finalists will automatically proceed to the global finals and the remaining three will compete with other international semi-finalists. The winning startups also received $50,000 in cash.

Four of the six winners on the night were graduates of TAQADAM, a startup accelerator powered by KAUST and the Saudi British Bank (SABB). They were:

  • 1st place – Talon Dust Control, TAQADAM graduate 2019 – A Saudi-manufactured dust control and stabilization solution.
  • 2nd place – Edama Organic Solutions, TAQADAM graduate 2018 – Saudi’s first organic waste recycling solution.
  • 5th place – Peregrine Genomics, TAQADAM graduate 2019 – a next generation genomic diagnostics testing platform.
  • 6th place – MIQYAS, TAQADAM graduate 2019 – an app that fits garments tailored to your measurements.

The winners of the Saudi event will join the ‘EWC 100’ to participate in the Global Finals. The EWC 100 were selected from the winners of 65 mainly virtual National Finals events that have taken place around the world this summer and a wider pool of the strongest applicants, to ensure the highest possible level of competition, a wide range of sectors, different stages, and global diversity – the hallmarks of the EWC. A full list of the EWC 100 is available here.

At the Global Finals, the EWC 100 – will compete for the chance to win cash prizes totaling $1 million plus additional investment opportunities and another $75 million of in-kind support at the finals. In addition to these global prizes, many of the EWC national competitions offer their own prizes as well as investment opportunities. All 175,000 global participants had immediate access to free training materials from experienced mentors and up to $25,000 worth of perks from dozens of partners like Zoom, Amazon Web Services and Shopify.

Hattan Ahmed, Head of the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center said: “In this period of global uncertainty and as economies transition to the digital era, young minds and entrepreneurs stand at the bow navigating the shifting sands of global technology, channeling entrepreneurial drive and championing business creation. KAUST is a natural partner of the EWC 2020, as both organizations share the mutual global ambition of attracting tech startups, premier global talent and the building of a global funnel in which Saudi Arabia can serve as an eminent hub for entrepreneurship.” He added: “The Entrepreneurship World Cup is one of the most ambitious global pitch competitions – and we are excited to partner with Misk Foundation to reach thousands of startups and help them achieve their dreams.”

KAUST’s involvement in the EWC is significant. As well has having served on the judging panel at the Saudi National Final, it will help with the judging at the Global Finals and provide expert speakers to deliver seminars workshops. For the second year running, KAUST’s Entrepreneurship Center hosted a bootcamp from September 27-28 to help prepare the top 100 finalists for the Global Finals. This year’s bootcamp was held virtually and provided the finalists with mentors from the top of their respective fields to help them expand their networks and hone their entrepreneurship and pitching skills.

Abdulrahman Al Suhaymi, who leads the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) and the entrepreneurship programs at Misk, said: “All of us in the EWC team are so glad that KAUST are so deeply involved again, not only because they share our view that young people are the greatest asset for overcoming the challenge of change, but because their world-leading expertise will help our Global Finalists achieve their potential. Individual entrepreneurs can only thrive amid a supportive, dynamic ecosystem and the EWC is as much about collaboration, cooperation and community as it is about competition. KAUST’s involvement will help drive forward all of these elements at the Global Finals.”

In 2019, the collaboration between KAUST and Misk during the EWC resulted in six KAUST startups securing wins – each of whom were awarded $50,000. The six winners were graduates of KAUST’s own entrepreneurship programs, including Hikma Accelerator, TAQADAM Startup Accelerator, and the 9/10ths Accelerator, a joint partnership with Takamol. The six winners included Dhad, Cura, Faheem, Sadeem, UnitX and Red Sea Farms, an IP-based startup using saltwater technology for desert farming. Red Sea Farms, who were 3rd place winners at the global finals, have gone on to sign an enterprise collaboration with their EWC mentor, Kirchner Group.

KAUST continues to be an enabler of national impact initiatives and an expert in entrepreneurship training, startup accelerators and competitions. The University looks to continue advancing economic development and technological innovation by supporting pioneering technology and industry with their R&D collaborations and assisting future-centric startups to the benefit of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the entire world.