KAUST recently signed a partnership agreement with Research Products Development Company (RPDC) to support technology commercialization and early stage startups in Saudi Arabia. Pictured from left to right at the signing ceremony: Abdulmohsen Almajnouni, CEO, RPDC; His Highness Prince Dr. Turki bin Saud, Taqnia chairman; Dr. Kevin Cullen, VP of Innovation and Economic Development, KAUST; Jean Frechet, former senior VP for research, innovation, and economic development, KAUST. Photo by Khulud Muath.
-By Alexander Buxton, KAUST News
KAUST recently signed a partnership agreement with Research Products Development Company (RPDC) to support technology commercialization and early stage startups in Saudi Arabia. RPDC and the KAUST Innovation Fund, which makes equity investments in high-tech startups, agreed to co-invest in startup companies and establish a joint mentorship and startup exchange program.
"This agreement is an important milestone in furthering RPDC's commitment to accelerating research commercialization and startup innovations," stated Abdulmohsen Almajnouni, CEO at RPDC. "KAUST is a long-term partner of RPDC and we are excited for this next step that will enable us to access and support a strong pipeline of innovative technologies and entrepreneurs in the Kingdom."
The new investment partnership includes an agreement for RPDC to co-invest or match KAUST funding of up to $2 million into deep tech startups at the proof-of-concept, seed and series A funding stages. These investments will enable emerging technologies to take advantage of RPDC's expertise in research, prototyping and piloting and help them to accelerate their entry into the market.
"RPDC and KAUST share common interests in commercializing intellectual property and supporting high-tech startups in Saudi Arabia," said Mohammed Bayounes, RPDC business development director. "This agreement will help build a healthy and productive innovation ecosystem within Saudi Arabia and support the transition of the Kingdom's academic research to commercial application, generating high-value employment, export growth and other important economic benefits"
Tamer Osman, head of the KAUST Innovation Fund, stated: "RPDC is our first strategic co-investment partner, and this agreement increases our ability to make significant investments into deep tech startups and commercialize KAUST technologies. The agreement also goes beyond funding—we will work together to establish mentorship and other entrepreneur support programs. Our mission is closely aligned to RPDC's, and this partnership will help both of our organizations continue to support scientists in commercializing their discoveries."
RPDC and KAUST will support high-tech entrepreneurs in the Kingdom through the codevelopment of two new entrepreneurship programs. The first will draw on the joint expertise and global reach of both organizations to establish a mentorship program of technical experts and experienced entrepreneurs to advise startup founders. A second program will launch a startup exchange focusing on robotics.
"RPDC is an important partner for KAUST given its position as a leading commercialization institution in Saudi Arabia," noted Kevin Cullen, vice president of KAUST Innovation and Economic Development. "We are thrilled to be co-investing and supporting the Kingdom's leading tech-based startups with RPDC."