KAUST launches entrepreneurship bootcamp in China to drive product commercialization and innovation.

The bootcamp connects Saudi innovators to China’s innovation ecosystem

Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, January 23, 2024 — King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched its first immersive innovation program in Shenzhen, China. From January 4 – 18, 2024, the ShenTech Bootcamp, a collaboration with Shenzhen InnoX Academy (InnoX), hosted a group of 45 startup founders, graduate students and aspiring entrepreneurs from Saudi Arabia. The program aimed to equip participants with business strategies and technical skills to transform ideas into market-ready products and services addressing global challenges. 

The ShenTech Bootcamp, initiated through the KAUST Innovation Hub in Shenzhen, offers support in developing technical solutions, upstream, downstream and supply chain partners, and human capability in the Greater Bay Area. Participants received mentorship from Chinese and international “unicorn” founders and emerged from the bootcamp with practical skills for turning novel ideas into tangible products and successful ventures for real-world impact. 

Founding Dean of InnoX Zexiang Li, Distinguished Visiting Professor at KAUST, said, “The world is increasingly shaped by and dependent upon our technological inventions and innovators are needed who can navigate this complex terrain in the 21st century and beyond. My role as founder, engineer and educator is to prepare these new leaders to be critical thinkers and resilient entrepreneurs.” 

Zexiang Li speaking at ShenTech.

KAUST, an international graduate-level science and technology research university, brings a record of research and development excellence and entrepreneurial readiness. InnoX, with its in-depth expertise in startup incubation, provided opportunities for ShenTech Bootcamp participants to engage with key players and accomplished founders in the Greater Bay Area, such as successful startups DJI, Narwhale and Ecoflow. 

With approximately 63% of its population under the age of 30, Saudi Arabia is investing substantial resources in cultivating a supportive business environment for its next-generation entrepreneurs. The Kingdom’s startup ecosystem is projected to surpass $13 billion in value by 2025 in fast-growing sectors such as fintech, e-commerce and smart devices. The program aims to build on the Kingdom’s startup successes and further the development of hardware and software products through knowledge exchange.   

To further this goal, KAUST has created a master’s degree graduate program: Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (TIE). This 16-month course of study, including an immersive startup innovation experience in Shenzhen, is designed to prepare students for successful careers in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. Applications for TIE are now open for the fall semester, 2024. 

“The time is right to strengthen alliances between KAUST and Shenzhen tech innovators,” said Dr. Jinchao Xu, director of KAUST Innovation Hub in Shenzhen, and professor of applied mathematics and computational sciences at KAUST. “As a globally leading research institution invested in technology development and commercialization, KAUST is uniquely positioned to make an impact on the global stage, and Shenzhen is the ideal city to connect Saudi Arabia to China and the Greater Bay Area.” 

KAUST student Soumaya Fayie at ShenTech.

This initiative is part of a broader effort to strengthen Saudi-China tech exchange and aligns with the Kingdom's goals to expand tech partnerships in China. Shenzhen, often referred to as China's "Silicon Valley," is a leading hub for research innovation, commercialization and economic output.