Startup teams chosen for first TAQADAM Accelerator Cohort

Startup teams join the first TAQADAM University Entrepreneur Accelerator program based at KAUST and sponsored by the Saudi British Bank.

Twenty-eight​ student- and faculty-led startup teams were chosen in January to join the first TAQADAM University Entrepreneur Accelerator program based at KAUST and sponsored by the Saudi British Bank (SABB). TAQADAM aims to develop early stage entrepreneurs and their concepts into new high-potential startups and is part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) outreach across the Kingdom.

The early stage startups work in a wide range of technologies and industries including healthcare, bioinformatics, new materials, the internet of things and software. These teams represent co-founders from 13 Saudi universities, including KAUST.

The entrepreneurs were accepted into the TAQADAM cohort after participating in a competitive application process. Over 600 applications were received, and out of these, 168 teams advanced to the second round of judging. The TAQADAM program is the only multi-university startup accelerator in the Middle East.

The early stage startup teams completed the one month pre-accelerator program leading to a pitch event at KAUST on January 7. The entrepreneurs will spend the next five months participating in the intensive startup accelerator program designed to help them execute their business models, deliver valuable products or services and create local jobs. The program will end with a Startup Showcase at the end of May.

Twenty eight​ student- and faculty-led teams have been chosen to join the first TAQADAM Accelerator Cohort.​

Teams from the Kingdom

Each year, the TAQADAM program chooses up to 30 startup teams from universities across Saudi Arabia. The successful teams receive seed grant funding and go through a mentor-led development program that includes access to office space at the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center, support from members of the KAUST international mentor group and training to help launch and scale their new ventures. The most promising startups are eligible for additional seed funding from the KAUST Innovation Fund that is matched by an equal amount from SABB.

“We were impressed by the scope and ambition level of the teams that applied for this first TAQADAM program, which says a lot about how entrepreneurship and innovative thinking is growing in universities across the Kingdom,” said Amal Dokhan from the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center. “The accelerator team is excited by the wide range of technologies and solutions that these university entrepreneurs want to bring to the market.”

KAUST-powered accelerators make an impact

TAQADAM is a major expansion of the KAUST-based HIKMA and New Ventures award-winning accelerator programs delivered to KAUST students and faculty for the past two years. Startups that completed these programs have received numerous accolades over the past year. KAUST startups Sadeem and SONATE competed at the Asia-Pacific competition Slush Singapore in September of 2016, with Sadeem making the final 45 startups and SONATE the final six out of 750 startups that originally applied for the competition, for example. In addition, KAUST startups Sadeem, NOMADD and Visual Experience were featured in the Forbes Middle East list The 50 Most Promising Saudi Startups.