Saudi Arabia earmarks $200m for early investment in tech

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has inaugurated a fund worth SR750 million ($200 million) aimed at early-stage investments in both local and international high-tech companies. The launch is part of a broader strategy introduced for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The strategy’s goal is to translate research into economically viable innovations by focusing on national priorities in research, development, and innovation.

The strategy has identified key areas of focus, including health and wellness, sustainable environmental solutions, essential needs, energy and industrial leadership, and future economies.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated, “Since its establishment, KAUST has stood out for its research, innovations, and faculty, making it one of the world’s leading research universities. The new strategy builds upon KAUST’s academic accomplishments and signifies a new era for the university to become a beacon of knowledge and a source of inspiration and innovation, in alignment with Vision 2030 aspirations for the advancement of the Kingdom and the world.”

The strategy emphasises strengthening partnerships between KAUST and both the public and private sectors, contributing to the fulfilment of the Vision 2030 objectives. The primary aim is to enhance the likelihood of converting research into economically beneficial innovations, through a series of key initiatives:

  1. National Transformation Institute for Applied Research: This institute will expedite technology development and commercialisation, supporting the Kingdom’s economic diversification goals.
  2. Restructuring Research Centres: These will be realigned with the country’s research, development, and innovation priorities.
  3. $200 Million Investment Fund: The fund will target local and international high-tech firms, with the intention of boosting economic diversification and creating high-quality technical jobs.

The strategy also underscores the importance of global impact, encouraging researchers, faculty members, and students to leverage their research to create sustainable effects on a global scale. A significant initiative in this regard is the KAUST Reefscape Restoration Initiative, in partnership with NEOM, which aims to cultivate and restore hundreds of thousands of coral reefs on Shushah Island in the Red Sea.

KAUST will continue its partnerships with prominent companies such as Aramco, SABIC, ACWA Power, IBM, Dow, and Boeing. One of the strategy’s significant elements is to enhance international collaboration and cooperation frameworks with leading academic institutions and technological pioneers globally. This includes forging strategic partnerships with academic and commercial institutes in Shenzhen, China, focusing on applied research in cutting-edge fields like aerospace, robotics, and microelectronics.

Through these initiatives and partnerships, KAUST seeks to contribute to the growth of the Kingdom’s higher education ecosystem, nurture future research leaders, promote global innovation, stimulate advanced technology startups, and elevate the Kingdom’s economic competitiveness and global innovation leadership.

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