Entrepreneurship can feel like a solo sport. For many founders, the ideation and initial proof-of-concept stages involve an unrelenting focus and dedication—something few can relate to unless they’ve launched a startup.
The reality, though? Entrepreneurship thrives when startups are surrounded by community—innovators, fellow founders, investors, mentors, and others who can enlighten and accelerate the path forward.
KAUST’s commitment to community-building
That notion of community building is a critical component of what KAUST strives to do in our entrepreneurship programs. We’re committed to unifying this landscape, from dedicated co-working spaces to TAQADAM cohorts to startup reunions and networking events.
We also see partnerships as essential to our ongoing evolution—specifically, our partnership with the Saudi British Bank (SABB). Since 2016, KAUST and SABB have worked closely to create, promote, and grow the TAQADAM Startup Accelerator. This now-six-year-old collaboration has enabled us to impact global entrepreneurship worldwide, training and funding 336 founders spanning 115 startups, with more than 20,000,000 SR in zero-equity grants to date.
With a shared focus on and commitment to innovation and community, the TAQADAM partnership enables both SABB and KAUST to lean into this fast-evolving sector. Each lending to the accelerator—KAUST bringing its world-class facilities, resources, professors, mentors, and SABB offering professional guidance, relationship-building, and access to funding—TAQADAM participants receive a truly end-to-end experience that encompasses every stage of the entrepreneurship journey.
Welcoming the 2021 cohort
This year is no exception. The 2021 cohort recently kicked off its six-month accelerator program with twice the number of participants, each receiving 150,000 SR in funding. As in previous years, participants will receive hands-on mentoring and workshops, access to co-working lab facilities, and ample opportunities to connect and network with other entrepreneurs and investors.
“Much of the power of TAQADAM results from our long-term, strategic partnership with SABB,” explains Kevin Cullen, vice-president of KAUST Innovation. “This partnership enables our startups to grow faster and stronger. Funding is important, but we go much further and the heart of this program lies is in the incredible networks and mentorship offered to our startups.”
As the KAUST and SABB partnership evolves, its impact on the Saudi entrepreneurship landscape becomes increasingly apparent as prominent TAQADAM graduates such as UnitX, Faheem, Firnas Aero, and Taffi gain greater traction and wider regional recognition. All of this, then, ladders up to Vision 2030 and our shared goal of accelerating and promoting Saudi entrepreneurship in the region and around the globe.
“TAQADAM gives us a unique opportunity to finance and support the ambitions of some of the most exciting entrepreneurial talent,” says Majed Najm, deputy managing director for Corporate & Institutional Banking at SABB. “Thanks to the support of KAUST, the program has built a proud legacy in making sure the businesses our Kingdom needs most are getting the best possible start.”
Looking ahead, KAUST will continue to facilitate national impact initiatives like TAQADAM by providing expert entrepreneurship training and startup development. By accelerating new business development and helping founders grow and evolve, initiatives like TAQADAM can go far beyond entrepreneurship and have a profound, lasting impact on economic growth and technological innovation at KAUST, in the Kingdom, and around the globe.
Learn more about TAQADAM and how to apply for upcoming programs here.