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7 March 2021

The MITEF Saudi Startup Competition concludes the Startup Investment Forum and the StartSmart Conference activities

  • Entrepreneurs Advancement
9 Saudi teams win SAR 325,000 prizes and qualify for the MITEF Arab Startup Competition
The MITEF Saudi Startup Competition concludes the Startup Investment Forum and the StartSmart Conference activities - 1

The MIT Enterprise Forum in Saudi Arabia, a branch of the global network of the MIT Enterprise Forum, in partnership with Bab Rizq Jameel and under the patronage of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology concluded the activities of the Startup Investment Forum and the StartSmart Conference, which took place from March 4 to 6, 2021. On March 6, 2021, during the StartSmart Conference, names of the nine winning teams in the fifth edition of the MITEF Saudi Startup Competition were announced.

The fifth edition of the MITEF Saudi Startup Competition witnessed the organization of the Startup Investment Forum for the second year in a row, coming this year in its virtual version, with the participation of about 50 innovative startups from Saudi Arabia and the world, including the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Bahrain, Egypt, Palestine, India, North Macedonia, China, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Lithuania. The forum is a platform that brings together startups and small companies from around Saudi Arabia and the world, who would like to expand their businesses in the Kingdom along with investors.

The MITEF Saudi Startup Competition held a day-long the StartSmart conference to allow entrepreneurs to get inspired with new ideas, make acquaintances, build relationships, get trained, and receive information which would help them make their startup a real success.

StartSmart was attended by a galaxy of investors, entrepreneurs, and speakers from all around the universe. Those included Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship; Phil Budden, Senior Lecturer at MIT School of Management; Edward. B. Roberts, Founder and Chair of the Martin Trust Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Osama Ashry, team leader for the Western Region in Saudi Arabia, MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program. The conference covered many topics that touched upon the impact of the MIT Enterprise Forum through 40 years including how MIT has supported entrepreneurs who have established distinctive companies, the impact of the financial services technologies on economies in the Middle East and North

Africa, and a panel discussion led by Nilüfer Gunhan, Chief Financial Services Officer at Abdul Latif Jameel.

On this occasion, His Excellency the Deputy Minister for Technology and Industrial Capacity, Dr. Ahmed Altheneyan, gave a speech at the StartSmart conference “’We are pleased to support the fifth edition of the MITEF Saudi Startup Competition, with the aim of stimulating and enriching the digital entrepreneurship ecosystem, exploring national entrepreneurial talent and supporting its growth, in line with the “Communications and Information Technology 2023 strategy” to enable a coherent present and an innovative future to realize the Kingdom’s ambitious 2030 vision.”

“During the last period, the Ministry sought to create an effective model to support the process of digital entrepreneurship by providing an integrated ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs and innovators in the field of digital transformation, linking them with investors, opening markets for them, and transforming their ideas into widely deployable startups, to change society and the world around them for the better. As a center for innovation and digital entrepreneurship was established through which support and services were provided to more than 300 male and female entrepreneurs, more than 500 new digital business models were launched, and 14 innovation labs were launched with our partners in the private and public sectors with the aim of supporting start-ups in technical fields to provide technical and administrative advice, training programs, technical support and other services,” he added.

On his part, Hassan Jameel, Vice Chairman, Community Jameel, said: “This year’s virtual competition reflects the way the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the global business environment – a challenge that all our participants approached with an agile mindset. Entrepreneurs and SMEs are a vital part of the economy in Saudi Arabia. By 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to scale SME contribution to national GDP from 20% to 35%, and they will play a key role in our economic recovery after the pandemic. The ideas and innovation shown by this year’s participants reinforce that we have some of the finest and brightest talent, right here in the Kingdom; to achieve this ambition.”

The winning Saudi teams won cash prizes of SAR325,000: in the Startups track, the first place went to Hudhud Al; the second place was won by Nugttah team, and the third place went to Taffi. As for the Ideas track, SARsat ranked the first, Themar came in the second place, while Genomez team won the third place. For the Social Enterprise track, Ad Astra won the first place, the second place went to Cube DX, and the third place to Baleegh.

In addition to the winners’ coronation, the fifth edition of the MITEF Saudi Startup Competition honored the governmental and non-governmental entities which acted as partners in the event. Those included: the official sponsor of the event, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Ministry of Investment as the investment partner, General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (Monshaat) as the governmental partner, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) as Innovation partner, Tasami as Impact partner and our ecosystem partners were MAGNIT, MIT REAP in the Western Region in Saudi Arabia, Ocean X, Global Entrepreneurship Network, and 33 Voices. This is in addition to some supporting partners including King Khalid Foundation, Nafisa Shams, Wadi Makkah Technology, Endeavor Saudi Arabia and Hala Ventures Fund. The honored media partners were Rouya Public Relations Consultancy, and Startup Scene.

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