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  • Writer's pictureMajid Alhusseini

A Riyadh based Techstars Accelerator Targets Startups from Across MENA

Global investment platform, Techstars, and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology have partnered up to launch the all-new Riyadh Techstars Accelerator. The accelerator will work with startups and entrepreneurs to help build and grow their business in the MENA region, underlining Techstar’s mission to make innovation and entrepreneurship more accessible.

“Technology and innovation-based entrepreneurship is a key enabler to driving the achievement of Vision 2030, our nation’s blueprint for social transformation and economic diversification. We have a young population, 70% of whom are youth. These are our digital natives and we want to leverage their energy and curiosity to leapfrog with innovation,” said Dr. Ahmed Altheneyan, Deputy Minister for Future Skills and Digital Entrepreneurship. “The ministry and Techstars will come together to scale the impact of their combined resources and capabilities to truly accelerate digital entrepreneurship across the Kingdom, where we are already witnessing the growth of a vibrant venture capital investment community, rapid technology adoption, and how digital transformation is allowing companies to re-imagine themselves to become more competitive.”

Although this will be Techstars’ first accelerator in Saudi Arabia, the organization has been active in the region for years through more than 700 Techstars Startup Weekend events, the Techstars Dubai Accelerator and the Techstars Hub71 Accelerator in Abu Dhabi.

The Saudi Arabian accelerator comes after an earlier partnership between the Ministry and Techstars in July 2020 with the Techstars Startup Weekend COVID-19 KSA. More than 550 Saudi entrepreneurs attended virtual panels, networking events and workshops to discuss and address challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“With entrepreneurship on the rise in Saudi Arabia, and the unwavering community commitment to developing a strong startup ecosystem in the region, putting down roots in Riyadh is something we’ve been looking forward to,” said Gagan Bhatia, Techstars General Manager. “We’re excited to work with MCIT to drive innovation in the Kingdom, supporting entrepreneurs and helping them advance their ideas and businesses in the region. At Techstars, we believe that great ideas can come from anywhere. We look forward to making entrepreneurship more accessible and bringing more opportunities to more entrepreneurs in MENA through this partnership.”

The accelerator will begin to accept applications for their 13-week programme on May 10, 2021. The programme will take place from November 2021 through February 2022. A Techstars Managing Director will lead the accelerator with support from a Techstars programme manager, along with leadership and mentors from MCIT. Participants in the programme will receive funding, hands-on mentorship, access to curated workshops and resources, and life-long access to the Techstars global network.

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