NTDP and KAUST Expand The 'NextEra' Portfolio, Adding 20 New Saudi Deep Technology Startups

20 Saudi startups gather on KAUST campus for the ‘NextEra’ bootcamp

KAUST hosted 20 Saudi startups between April 28 and 30 at the 'NextEra' startup bootcamp, an initiative of the National Technology Development Program (NTDP) in Saudi Arabia.  

Designed by NTDP, the 'NextEra' initiative offers enticing financial incentives to eligible tech companies, aiming to catalyze the advancement and innovation of cutting-edge and profound technological products. 

The cohort convened at the KAUST campus, located near Jeddah, for an intensive series of mentoring, one-to-one guidance, and learning sessions focused on strategies to successfully launch deep tech products into the market. 

The 'NextEra' cohort includes startups specializing in a variety of cutting-edge fields such as Spatial Computing, Generative AI, SpaceTech, Open RAN, mmWave, BioTech, IoT, Drones, and Green Tech. 

“As an entrepreneurship and innovation-focused technology university, we strive to bring new Saudi startups to life, and make the commercialization of deep tech products viable to this market, said Ian Campbell, Vice President of the National Transformation Institute at KAUST. 

“The second cohort of 20 companies have been selected from 200 companies that have applied for the program”, comments VP of Entrepreneurship and Corporates at NTDP, Meshal Alkabeer. “It will be important for them to network, understand how they can cooperate, understand the facilities available to them at KAUST and the support available for them here.” 

The KAUST-NTDP partnership aims to advance Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic transformation goals by cultivating cutting-edge, impactful startups and top entrepreneurial talent in the Kingdom. Other partners include the Saudi Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT), the Saudi Research, Development and Innovation Authority (RDIA) and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). 

Almaha Albulaihe, DeepTech Expert at MCIT, speaking at the bootcamp emphasized the importance of working together, stating, “We at MCIT as a market developer and policy maker ensure to grow the tech market and to foster the digital economy. Partnering with KAUST and NTDP on initiatives like NextEra can help us enable, empower and expand the deep tech sector within the kingdom.” 

The 'NextEra' partnership is one of many ongoing collaborations between NTDP and KAUST. Announced during LEAP 2024, NTDP, KAUST and SDAIA have also partnered on create the AI Mission (AIM) initiative for Saudi Arabia. This initiative will catalyze the growth of a comprehensive artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem in the Kingdom and help elevate its global ranking in the field of AI.