KSA Innovation Economy Tech Startups 2017
Excerpts from a report conducted by Arabnet is designed for anyone interested in investing in the Saudi Arabian tech startup scene, in supporting or launching an incubator, accelerator, or mentorship program, and in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Saudi Arabia in general.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 have set ambitious objectives and targets for shifting Saudi Arabia from an oil-dependent economy to a knowledge-based economy. Numerous initiatives in technology, entrepreneurship, and digital innovation are being rolled out - from job creation, capacity building, establishing updated regulatory frameworks, and supporting SMES, to accelerating, incubating, and investing in startups.
Saudi Arabia, recognizing the significance of fostering an environment conducive to developing the role of small and medium enterprises (SMES), is focusing on job creation and stimulating economic growth. Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia intends to increase the contribution of SMES to the GDP to 35% by easing access to funding. The Kingdom is also encouraging financial institutions to allocate approximately 20% - as opposed to the previous 5% - of overall loans to SMES. Further plans for stimulating the SME sector involve championing a larger supply of skilled talent while increasing female participation in the workforce.
Thus, one of the central steps in supporting SMES was the formation of a Small to Medium Enterprises General Authority (SMEA). The main objective of this authority is to review regulations, remove any challenges to accessing finance, and help startups and SMES by marketing their ideas, products, and services. The authority also focuses on extending support services through incubators, training centers, and venture capital funds. In its most recent initiative, the SMEA launched HUB1006 to advance entrepreneurship in the country. HUB1006 intends to offffffer SMES, entrepreneurs, and startups access to professional and legal services, workspaces, venture capital, and government services. The hub, established in King Abdullah Economic City, aims at enabling startups to scale their ventures while decreasing bureaucratic obstacles.
This report is designed for anyone interested in investing in the Saudi Arabian tech startup scene, interested in supporting or launching an incubator, accelerator, or mentorship program, and interested in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Saudi Arabia in general.