TAQADAM University Accelerator Energizes Saudi University Startups

Twenty-eight student and faculty-led startup teams have been chosen to join the first Taqadam University Entrepreneur Accelerator program, which is based at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and sponsored by Saudi British Bank (SABB). The KAUST-SABB University Entrepreneur Accelerator “TAQADAM” aims to develop early stage entrepreneurs and their concepts into new, high-potential startups.

The early stage startups are working in a wide-range of technologies and industries including Healthcare, Bioinformatics, New Materials, Internet of Things, and Software. These teams represent co-founders from thirteen Saudi universities including KAUST.

The entrepreneurs were accepted into the TAQADAM cohort after participating in a highly competitive application process.  Over 600 applications were received, of which 168 teams advanced to the second round of judging. The TAQADAM program is the only multi-university startup accelerator in the Middle East.

These early stage startup teams completed the one-month pre-accelerator program leading to a pitch event at KAUST on January the 7th. These entrepreneurs will spend the next five months participating in the intensive startup accelerator program designed to help them execute their business models, deliver valuable products or services, and create local jobs. The program will end with a Startup Showcase at the end of May.

“We were impressed by the scope and ambition level of the teams that applied for this first TAQADAM program, which says a lot about how entrepreneurship and innovation thinking is growing in universities across the Kingdom,” said Amal Dokhan, from the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST. “The accelerator team is excited by the wide range of technologies and solutions that these university entrepreneurs want to bring to the market.”

Each year, the TAQADAM program will choose up to thirty startup teams from universities across Saudi Arabia. These successful teams will receive up to $20,000 each in seed grant funding as part of the program. The accelerator will also offer a mentor-led development program that includes access to office space at the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center, support from members of the KAUST international mentor group and training to help launch and scale their new ventures. The most promising startups will be eligible for additional seed funding from the KAUST Innovation Fund that will be matched by an equal amount from SABB.