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  • KAUST hosts TAQADAM Startup Accelerator Showcase in partnership with SABB

    March 2021


    KAUST and Saudi British Bank (SABB) partner to showcase innovators and entrepreneurs on March 10 during a live virtual startup demo day

    King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is hosting the TAQADAM Startup Accelerator showcase where graduates from the program’s 2020 cohort will be showcasing their ventures at a virtual event to be held on March 10 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Through three-minute pitches, the graduates will be presenting virtually to a network of top-tier local and international investors and judges. Those interested in attending the showcase are encouraged to register at https://kaust.link/taqadam-showcase2021.

    The six-month-long startup accelerator program, which is based at KAUST and sponsored by Saudi British Bank (SABB), aims to develop early-stage entrepreneurs and their concepts into new, high-potential startups. The theme of this year’s showcase, “Creativity Crystallized”, reflects the intense pressure entrepreneurs are facing amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. Their ingenuity and creativity in responding to the crisis highlight just how innovative this year’s cohort is.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic made this a very challenging year for our 2020 TAQADAM cohort,” said Dr. Kevin Cullen, vice president of Innovation and Economic Development at KAUST. “However, these entrepreneurs rose to that challenge and did an amazing job and thrived under pressure. Their resilience and perseverance reflect the amazing talent we have in our Saudi entrepreneurship ecosystem and we are extremely proud to be a part of and contributing to it as KAUST establishes itself as the deep tech heart of the Saudi economy.”

    The 2020 TAQADAM Startup Accelerator cohort includes 76 founders, representing 37 startup finalists, from diverse industries, including eCommerce, MedTech, EdTech and FinTech. The accepted teams received SR150,000 in zero-equity grant-funding. The competition was fierce for this cohort as more than 561 startups applied with only 59 shortlisted. Of those, 37 top startups graduated from the program.

    Teams usually have access to co-working and lab facilities but had to go virtual in 2020 due to COVID-19. Empowered by mentorship and online collaborative tools, the aspiring entrepreneurs worked to bring their ideas to market through training in topics, such as growth hacking, fundraising, sales, pricing, marketing and more. TAQADAM utilizes KAUST and SABB’s powerful networks to connect founders with expert mentors and industry leaders in the startup ecosystem, helping guide them throughout their startup journey.

    SABB’s Deputy Managing Director of Corporate and Institutional Banking, Majed Najm, said: “We’re excited to work with KAUST to offer such a unique opportunity for young entrepreneurs to secure zero-equity funding. TAQADAM is all about equipping young entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into successful businesses. Not only are they getting the chance to get feedback on their pitching skills – they could also secure a transformational investment. We wish everyone involved the best of luck.”

    At the annual showcase event, startup graduates will be competing for a prize pool of over SR4 million in zero-equity funding. Judges will select 10 winners to receive a prize valued at SR375,000 each. In addition, the audience will vote on a People’s Choice Award for one startup to receive a prize valued at SR 375,000. These awards will support the startups to accelerate operations, grow their business and expand their teams.

    In 2016, KAUST and SABB partnered to launch the first TAQADAM Startup Accelerator program as a way to support entrepreneurs in taking the first leap toward founding a startup. The accelerator has now graduated 126 startups and granted over 16 million SR in zero-equity grant funding.

    About King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
    Established in 2009, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is a graduate research university devoted to finding solutions for some of the world’s most pressing scientific and technological challenges in the areas of food, water, energy and the environment. With 19 research areas related to these themes and state of the art labs, KAUST has created a collaborative and interdisciplinary problem-solving environment, which has resulted in over 11,000 published papers to date.
    With over 100 different nationalities living, working and studying on campus, KAUST has brought together the best minds and ideas from around the world with the goal of advancing science and technology through distinctive and collaborative research. KAUST is a catalyst for innovation, economic development and social prosperity in Saudi Arabia and the world. For additional information, visit: www.Kaust.edu.sa


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