RIYADH — Technology startups incubated by the Badir Program for Technology Incubators and Accelerators, one of the leading initiatives of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), closed 2019 on a high note, raising a record SR236 million ($62.93 million) led by venture capital firms, individual investors, private companies, and governmental institutions.
The total funding for startups increased to SR508 million ($135.47 million) from 2010 until the end of December 2019 across 184 deals, according to a statistical report compiled by the Business Incubators and Accelerators Company (BIAC), which manages and operates the Badir Program.
The report revealed that venture capital firms were the most active in terms of funding size, investing SR 203 million into startups, equivalent to 40% of the total amount of funding and investment, while private sector companies provided SR 168 million, 33% of the total funding.
BIAC report further disclosed that the total financing by individual investors amounted to SR 104 million, 20% of the total amount of funding, followed by government institutions who invested SR 35 million, 7% of the total investment volume.
The increase in investments reflects the maturing startup environment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the continued and growing interest of local and international investors. Furthermore, the number of startups incubated in the Badir Program rose to 655 companies since inception until the end of the third quarter of 2019.
The Badir Program offers one of the most important national and innovative environments in the field of entrepreneurship. The Program was established in 2007 by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, to support and provide opportunities for technology- and innovation-based business enterprises.
Nawaf Al Sahhaf, the Chief Executive Officer of BIAC, said: “As the startup environment is thriving in Saudi Arabia, we have seen more of the startups succeed in receiving significant investments from several investors. The success of startups provides an incentive for encouraging and enhancing the entrepreneurship environment in the market."
When the Badir Program incubates a technological startup company, it facilitates funding by providing a platform by connecting investors and entrepreneurs through its annually-held "Projects Presentation Day" program.
A state-owned subsidiary of the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA) – owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) – BIAC operates and manages entrepreneurship support platforms, innovation and technology transfer programs. It also offers project management and business support with specialized consultancy and training services.
Offering an array of services in over nine different cities in the Kingdom, BIAC operates and manages 10 incubators and 8 accelerators in various fields, most notably the Badir Program's 8 incubators in 7 regions.
In addition, BIAC manages and operates the Saudi Innovation Center for Water Technology Program; the Fast Track to Innovation Program; the Innovation Center for Industry 4.0; the KAMIN Program for raising industrial capabilities and enhancing the capabilities of small- and medium-sized industrial enterprises; the Industrial Establishments Accelerator; Haramein Technology Accelerator; Badir Accelerator, and the Inventions Transfer Accelerator.