A Guide To The Most Notable (And Active) Accelerator Programs For Startups In Saudi Arabia Accelerators typically run for a set period of time, ranging from a few weeks to a few months, and they often include a structured curriculum or program of events designed to assist startups in learning and growing.
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Accelerator programs are designed to help early-stage startups, and they normally provide resources such as mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts. They may also provide access to a network of investors and potential customers, office space, and, in some cases, seed funding, in exchange for equity in the startup.
Accelerators typically run for a set period of time, ranging from a few weeks to a few months, and they often include a structured curriculum or program of events designed to assist startups in learning and growing. The goal of a startup accelerator program is to assist startups in reaching their full potential faster than they would be able to on their own.
Here, we've listed some of the most notable and active accelerators in Saudi Arabia in order of formation- from the oldest among them, to the newest on the block.
BIAC was the first company to be licensed to manage and operate incubators and accelerators in the Kingdom. BIAC is a subsidiary of the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA), which, in turn, is wholly-owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF). BIAC has experience managing and operating over 20 incubators, accelerators, and training programs across the Kingdom to support the development of the SME and entrepreneurship sector. Its longest running incubation and accelerator program is the Badir program, which, at its height, operated eight incubators and four accelerators across the Kingdom. Born out of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), 2019 was Badir's most notable year, when its startups raised a combined US$62.9 million. Between 2007 and Q3 2019, the Badir program incubated 655 startups.
2. KAUST Entrepreneurship Center
KAUST Entrepreneurship Center was established in 2010 to provide training and mentorship to general entrepreneurs on and off campus. TAQADAM is one of the initiatives launched by the Center in 2016. Launched in partnership with SABB, TAQADAM is a six-month startup accelerator program specifically designed for deeptech startups that require patient capital. TAQADAM provides non-dilutive, grant-based funding. $40,000 is awarded for startups that are accepted into the accelerator, and an additional $1 million is awarded to those selected for follow-on investments. To date, TAQADAM has graduated over 300 startups who have raised over $60 million in funding.
3. 500 Global
500 Global is a global venture capital firm headquartered in San Francisco, California that invests across stages with a focus on technology and innovation. 500 Global has been investing in entrepreneurs in MENA since 2012 through several funds, including 500 Falcons, and two Riyadh-based accelerator funds: the Misk 500 MENA accelerator fund, and the Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator fund, serving entrepreneurs across the region. In 2021, 500 Global established its MENA region headquarters in Riyadh. As of September 2022, 500 Global has invested in 37 startups in Saudi Arabia.
Learn more about the most prominent venture capitalists in Saudi Arabia's startup ecosystem by checking out the report, The Evolution of Saudi Arabia's Startup Ecosystem 2010-2022.
This article was originally published on Lucidity Insights, a partner of Entrepreneur Middle East in developing special reports on the Middle East and Africa's tech and entrepreneurial ecosystems.