King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) joined as the Innovation Partner to both the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Region for the Startup Competition Finals and MITEF Saudi Arabia in Al-Madinah Al-Munawara in Saudi Arabia. The finals, which took place from February 17 – 23, 2022 consisted of bootcamp training – spearheaded by KAUST – which were then followed by a conference, exhibition, judging and an awards ceremony to announce the winning startup teams.
This is the sixth annual MITEF Startup Competition and the third partnership between KAUST and MITEF. Both organizations believe that training and supporting innovative startups will empower entrepreneurs and foster an entrepreneurship ecosystem in Saudi Arabian and Arab region. The focus this year is on the theme of sustaining a green economy through entrepreneurship.
KAUST has a proven track record of providing entrepreneurs with the tools needed to succeed through their award-winning incubator, TAQADAM Startup Accelerator and technology park. The Entrepreneurship Center supported 60 teams of semi-finalists in the two-day bootcamp. KAUST worked to prepare the teams for their upcoming final pitches for each of the three tracks of the competition: Ideas, Startups and Social Entrepreneurship.
Topics during the bootcamp included scaling businesses, building business models and value propositions, customer journey mapping, fundraising, pitching and more. Since KAUST is focused on driving new technologies to market, the bootcamp also included mentorship as the flagship activity which put the entrepreneurs face-to-face with leading industry experts.
Of the 60 startup teams exhibiting at the competition, two of them are KAUST supported startups:
- Hakini, a startup from KAUST’s TAQADAMA 2021 cohort, is an online therapy platform that uses guidance for self-help intervention and remote teletherapy to increase accessibility to therapy and mental health care in Arabic.
- Algooru, a graduate of KAUST’s TAQADAM 2020 cohort, is a tutoring network marketplace that connects students and parents with qualified on-demand tutors through a mobile app.
There were nine winners across the three categories each of which received equity free cash funding. The winning teams will also benefit from a range of other activities including top tier training, mentorship, coaching, media exposure and great networking opportunities through a 6-month journey full of excitement and challenges.
“Partnering with MITEF Saudi Arabia and Pan Arab is a natural fit for KAUST. We are both committed to helping entrepreneurs rapidly transform their ideas into world-changing companies over the past few years. It’s a pleasure to bring our expert training and mentors to the MITEF Bootcamp to help nurture these leading startups ahead of their final pitches. Competitions like this have a far-reaching impact for both the region and the world,” said Hattan Ahmed, Entrepreneurship Director at KAUST.
Participants at the MITEF conference in Al-Madina had a front row seat in which they were able to engage with KAUST. The university continues to foster an environment in which bright ideas can have a transformational effect in the real world. Through entrepreneurship programs, funding support, and competitions like MITEF, KAUST plays an active role in growing a diverse ecosystem through fledgling high-potential startups and entrepreneurs.