2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges that required us to shift and grow collectively. KAUST’s response to the pandemic was swift: ensuring our people and the wider community were safe and embracing change by moving all of our programs and initiatives online. KAUST came together virtually and continued to create an impact at the university, in Saudi Arabia and worldwide.
As we look to the year behind us, we can see through our achievements that KAUST and our startups have not just adapted but even excelled through our dynamic and innovative approach.
148 Active KAUST Startups
KAUST startups continued to gain momentum in 2020. We saw many rising startups close new investment deals, win awards and grow. Here are some of the triumphs:
- Wayakit made history as they partnered with Swissport to keep Saudi Arabia’s airports safe with their fast-acting disinfectant spray.
- Red Sea Farms launched its new state-of-the-art saltwater greenhouse pilot facility based at the KAUST Research & Technology Park and announced its collaboration with the Kirchner group.
- Startup Sadeem won first place in the World Bank Group’s Innovate4Climate Pitch Hub 2020 competition.
- Saee closed round A investment of $2.4M, and Edama Organic Solutions received $780,000 seed funding.
- KAUST Innovation Fund was also recognized as one of MENA’s most active investors by MAGNITT.
We charged forward with our commitment to training and empowering the next generation of innovators through our programs and initiatives. Although limited by physical restrictions, shifting online allowed us to connect in novel and dynamic ways. Here are some of our key accomplishments:
- 59 startups and 158 entrepreneurs joined the TAQADAM virtual accelerator for the fourth cohort.
- 366 participants joined the Open Source Ventilator Hackathon (OSV) – a partnership between 9/10th Accelerator graduate Geeks Valley and KAUST.
- 781 entrepreneurs in training took part in KAUST’s new workshop “The Founders Guide to The Galaxy”at the MISK Global Forum.
- 100 participants were at the Entrepreneurship World Cup Bootcamp. TAQADAM graduate startups Miqyas, Peregrine Genomics, Edama Organic Solutions and Talon Dust Control went on to take the world stage at the EWC 2020 Finals.
- We innovated innovation during the pandemic, with 101 members of our community taking part in the KAUST-COVID-19 Challenge.
COVID-Edition Collaborations: 16
Collaborating with world-class institutions and leaders is essential for our growth in entrepreneurship and innovation. This year we were able to join forces with some of the best. Here are some of our most significant 2020 partnerships:
- Stanford Center for Professional Development, UC, Berkeley, Cornell and KAUST delivered “Entrepreneurship for All” — and graduated 80 students from the program who learned how to think like entrepreneurs and act as leaders.
- 45 startups participated in the MITEF Saudi Arabia Startup Competition in preparation for the first-ever Virtual Arab MITEF Startup Competition Finals
- For the second year running, KAUST partnered with Misk for the 2020 Entrepreneurship World Cup Competition.
- To allow startups to grow faster, SABB and KAUST doubled the funding for entrepreneurs in TAQADAM.
- We ran The Resilience Series that featured Berkley SCET experts, Stanford D School and Bill Aulet representing MIT’s MD Martin Trust Center.
- SMEs received training in AI, digital transformation and product development—the first program of its kind in Saudi Arabia—in collab with JCC, Modon and Monshaat.
- 32 investors were trained on investing in impact-driven startups in the Conscious Investor Fellowship in collaboration with VentureSouq, startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator anchored at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).