THUWAL — King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has recently wrapped up 'Destination Deep Tech,' a Saudi-first program that spins in leading-edge global startups to the Kingdom to develop deep tech innovations.

The international startups — CeEntek, Hopu, Insignes-Labs, Pasqal, and Proteinea — were chosen to experience the three-month program due to their highly advanced technology and have already started to expand in the MENA region's thriving market.

KAUST's ability to invest and support diverse startups is driven by a determination to attract best-in-class talent worldwide to energize the rich deep tech startup ecosystem in Saudi Arabia.

In particular, startups with the resolve to address pressing issues facing modern society like food scarcity, climate change, health and more enable the Kingdom's national impact initiatives to align with Vision 2030.

Destination Deep Tech, launched this year in partnership with The Next Web (TNW), provides hand-picked deep tech startups with the tools they need to scale. This includes access to KAUST's world-class R&D facilities, the opportunity to collaborate with academia and industry connections and office space at the KAUST Research and Technology Park.

“KAUST is the Deep Tech Heart of the Saudi economy, and so we are delighted to welcome these talented international startups to KAUST and the Kingdom as part of Destination Deep Tech. This new program demonstrates KAUST's commitment to growing a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in Saudi Arabia that addresses challenges and solves problems for the world," said Dr. Kevin Cullen, vice president of KAUST Innovation.

The final five startups were chosen from Spain, Poland, France, Egypt and Singapore. These startups achieved significant growth during the program and have established collaborative partnerships set to result in immediate impact in the Kingdom.

Pasqal, from France, is a leading European Quantum Computing startup that provides a full-stack solution from hardware to applications. Their goal is to bring the quantum advantage faster to end-users.

Pasqal has recently signed an MoU with Aramco and is currently looking to establish a commercial presence in the region. They have has also started collaborating with KAUST Centre for Extreme Computer Research, led by professor David Keyes.

Insignes-Labs, from Poland, develops antimicrobial additives to protect a wide range of materials from microorganisms such as bacteria, algae, fungi and molds.

The company is currently running a pilot program with KAUST startup Red Sea Farms while applying for a KAUST Technology Transfer Impact Acceleration Fund to further collaborate with the University and bring the product to market.

Proteinia, from Egypt, is a platform technology that harnesses the power of AI, deep learning models and biological automation for protein design and production. By fast-tracking the commercialization of key optimized protein products, Proteinia aims to serve the areas of human health, aquaculture industries, and sustainable food technologies.

Proteinea has set up a lab and office space at KAUST Research & Technology Park to base their R&D activity in KAUST, for access to world-class facilities and numerous collaborations established with resident academics.

CeEntek, from Singapore, delivers Ultra-High Performance Concrete for increased sustainability and efficiency of construction projects. Their innovative manufacturing process allows for UHPC 2.0 concrete solutions in a wide range of markets and applications.

Hopu, from Spain, provides AI-based IoT devices and sensors for Industry 4.0 and Smart Cities, covering air quality monitoring, noise, energy metering and more. The company is deploying its air quality sensors in the KAUST network through collaboration with KAUST Smart and KAUST academics.

Partner of the program, The Next Web (TNW) is an international organization that informs, inspires and connects the global tech ecosystem through media, events and innovation services.

TNW Programs, the team behind Destination Deep Tech, helps corporations and governments to innovate together with the startup ecosystem and ensured that top talent was recruited for the program.

Arno Nijhof, director at TNW Programs, stated that, “TNW's mission is to build bridges between ecosystems and create business connections that matter. With this program, we leveraged our global network and KAUST USPs to attract scale-up companies worldwide and support them with the business case to set up an office on campus.

“We are proud of the achievements made with KAUST in our first cohort. Together we managed 80% of the companies to continue their stay on campus.”

Destination Deep Tech is the latest evolution of KAUST to accelerate key initiatives and research projects relating to the overall socio-economic goals of Saudi Arabia.

By spinning in these five forward-looking startups, KAUST is committed to investing in novel startups that have the potential to provide present and future solutions to critical issues of sustainability and health, advancing Saudi Arabia and the world. 

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