The fourth TAQADAM Accelerator cohort has officially kicked off with 59 accepted startups, including 168 entrepreneurs from 10 Saudi cities, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Egypt. Over 1,750 startups applied to the program earlier this year. The hopeful graduates range from 23 different industries including clusters in logistics, EdTech, AgTech, FinTech and a large number of healthcare technology startups.
For the first time, the Bootcamp will be held virtually, live and in real-time. This is the first milestone of the TAQADAM program, in which founders will spend two weeks in intensive training, attending workshops, meeting mentors, and hearing from both local and international guest speakers from UC Berkeley and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN). Workshops will cover entrepreneurial leadership, design thinking, business models, strategy and pitching for startups, as well as explore the different tools that help founders deal with current and future market shifts.
“It’s exciting to announce the fourth cohort of the TAQADAM Startup Accelerator,” said Hattan Ahmed, Head of the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center. “This has been a big milestone for KAUST and SABB as we’ve continued to graduate high-quality startups over the past four years. And we’re so excited to meet and work with this year’s startups during our virtual Bootcamp.”
The TAQADAM Startup Accelerator was launched in 2016 by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in partnership with the Saudi British Bank (SABB). The program has successfully graduated 78 startups through three cohorts and awarded over SAR 12,000,000 in grant-based, seed funding. The six-month program provides entrepreneurs with support in ideation, mentorship, pitch training, product design, marketing, fundraising, exposure to industry, and networking support within Saudi Arabia. Teams also have access to co-working spaces, labs, administrative support and, ultimately, an opportunity to collaborate with a diverse future-forward, technology-minded community at KAUST.
Majed Najm, Deputy Managing Director, Corporate and Institutional Banking, SABB, said: “We’re committed to our role in supporting the business sector in Saudi Arabia, so we’re especially proud to help TAQADAM further its legacy of helping new talent enter the market. The more we do to help young people turn their ideas into successful businesses, the more diverse and sustainable our economy becomes.”
The Accelerator is open to entrepreneurs at all stages of the startup journey and from any industry. This is the first time that international startups have been accepted into the program. Accepted teams each receive up to SAR 150,000 in zero-equity funding to grow their business. A selection of startups will also have the chance to pitch for additional zero-equity funding at the final demo day in early 2021.
Those startups that complete the program will emerge into a competitive world of industry and enterprise equipped by KAUST and SABB with the tools they need to thrive.
KAUST continues to play a key role in advancing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s rapidly emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem and advancing the Kingdom’s Vision for 2030. KAUST enables entrepreneurs to hone their products through initiatives such as the STEAM Innovation Challenges, Junction Hackathons and TAQADAM Startup Accelerator will continue to empower entrepreneurs in order to spur innovation, stimulate job creation, encourage economic diversification, and spearhead Saudi Arabia’s global competitiveness in a rapidly changing world.