US-based venture capital (VC) firm 500 Startups has partnered with Saudi Arabia’s Misk Innovation to launch an early-stage accelerator programme for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
The partnership, announced at the Misk Global Forum, will focus on bringing growth hacking techniques and Silicon Valley expertise to emerging companies in the region.
The 16-week course is now open for applications and 15 to 20 technology startups from across Mena will be selected to be part of the first cohort in January 2019.
500 Startups has been invested in the region since 2012 and launched its 500 Falcons fund in 2017 focusing on seed-stage investments.
“We hope to accelerate innovation, facilitate job creation, improve cross-border operations and build local GDP [gross domestic product] across the region,” said Sharif El Badawi, managing partner at 500 Falcons.
Priority will be given to startups in the business-to-business, business-to-consumer, e-commerce, FinTech, EdTech, HealthTech, internet of things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), software as a service (Saas) and messaging services sectors.
“We are committed to amplifying innovation and it is our goal to invest in our remarkable founders and provide them with all opportunities they need to strive in this fast-paced world,” said Deemah Al-Yahya, executive manager at Misk Innovation.