What's new at The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)? If you're an aspiring entrepreneur, plenty: The univeristy is now partnering with Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center LCC (Wa'ed) to host the first Wa'ed Ideathon, from April 7-11 at the Plaza Conference Center in Dhahran.
The five day program is designed to help early stage entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground. One hundred applicants, including those with a startup idea as well as business and IT professionals looking to join a team, will be selected to participate.
During the week, participants will be paired with professional coaches and experienced mentors, with the option to attend workshops such as “Generating and Pitching a Professional Business Plan” and “App/Web Development," where they will learn how to refine their business concepts, develop a workable business plan, build a winning team, and prepare for investor pitches.
The goal is to give entrepreneurs a boost and expose them to potential funding to turn their ideas into realities.
This competition comes after KAUST Entrepreneurship Center's announcement of the latest four innovative projects to win entry into its Seed Fund round. The KAUST Seed Fund, which is part of its New Venture group, is designed to lead idea-stage entrepreneurs through the commercialization process to launch new businesses in Saudi Arabia.
The latest four projects to join include Envirola, a low-cost heavy metals detection instrument that provides an ease-of-use portable solution, iDivers, a solution for using touchpad devices underwater, MuseTech, a photo-real 3D immersive environment allowing museum visitors to feel as though they have been transported to a remote location, and NOMADD (NO Water Mechanical Automated Dusting Device), which cleans desert-based solar installations cost effectively and in an environmentally responsible manner.
"The Seed Fund Program is a vital component of KAUST's mission to catalyze Economic Development in the Kingdom - reflecting our founder King Abdullah's vision for KAUST," University President Professor Choon Fong Shih said in a statement.
For entrepreneurs a bit further down the road than those applying to the Ideathon, the Seed Fund, along with the KAUST Speaker Series, Technology Transfer and Innovation center, and state-of-the-art labs, offers a supportive environment for fledgling startups.