KAUST attracts 5 emerging international technology companies to Saudi Arabia

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has recently concluded the activities of the “Destination Deep Tech” program, a Saudi program that is considered the first of its kind and aims to attract emerging and distinguished international companies to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to develop an innovation environment in the fields of deep technology. The program has selected five international startups from Spain, Poland, France, Egypt and Singapore, due to their highly advanced technologies and successful expansion into the MENA markets. This program reflects KAUST’s ability to support and invest in various startups, in addition to its continuous commitment to attracting the best global talent to the promising startup environment in the Kingdom, and in particular startups interested in addressing pressing issues that support national impact initiatives in the Kingdom and contribute to achieving the goals of Vision 2030.

The Deep Technology Destination Program was launched at KAUST this year in partnership with The Next Web (TNW), an international media organization that supports and connects the global technology environment through media, conferences and innovation services. The program provides selected deep tech startups with the tools they need to expand their projects, including access to KAUST’s world-class R&D facilities, exploring opportunities for collaboration with academia and industry, and providing office space in the on-campus Research and Technology City.

Dr. Kevin Cullen, KAUST Vice President for Innovation, commented: “KAUST is the deep tech heart of the Saudi economy, and we are very pleased to host these talented international startups at our university and in Saudi Arabia through the KAUST DeepTech Destination Program, which underscores our commitment to developing a strong ecosystem. Entrepreneurship in the Kingdom addresses challenges and develops effective solutions to the problems facing the world.”

These international start-ups achieved significant growth during the program’s three-month period during which they established important collaborative partnerships with immediate impact in Saudi Arabia. Here is an overview of these companies:

Pasqal from France is a European startup and pioneer in the field of quantum computing, providing comprehensive solutions through quantum technology, whether in the form of devices or applications. Pascal aims to bring quantum technology services faster to end users. The company recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Aramco and is currently looking to establish a business entity in the region. It also started a collaboration with the Center for Supercomputing at KAUST headed by Professor David Keyes.

The company Insignes-Labs from Poland develops antimicrobials to protect a wide range of materials from microbes such as bacteria, algae, fungi and others. The company is currently running a pilot program with KAUST startup Red Sea Farms, as well as applying for impact acceleration funding of KAUST Technology Transfer to increase opportunities to collaborate with the university and introduce its product to the Saudi market.

Proteinea, a startup from Egypt, serves as a platform for artificial intelligence technology, deep learning models and biological automation for protein design and production. The company aims to market key improved protein products to serve the health, aquaculture industry and sustainable food technologies sectors. Protea has established a laboratory and office space in the KAUST Research and Technology Park to develop its research activities at the university and explore many aspects of cooperation with the academics located there.

CeEntek, a Singapore-based company, is developing high-performance concrete to increase the sustainability and efficiency of construction projects.

Hopu, from Spain, is working on developing Internet of Things devices and sensors based on artificial intelligence technology for applications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and smart cities, which include monitoring air quality, noise, energy consumption, and others. The company is deploying air quality sensors on the KAUST campus through a collaboration with the KAUST Smart division.

It is noteworthy that TNW, which is participating in the launch of the KAUST Deep Technology Destination Program, offers several programs aimed at helping companies and governments support innovation in startup environments and ensure that the best talent is recruited for these programs. “Through this program, we leveraged our global and KAUST network to attract and support leading companies from around the world so that they can set up offices on campus,” says Arno Niehof, TNW Director. We are very proud of the achievements with KAUST in our first group. Together, we managed 80% of the companies and supported them to continue to operate successfully from the university campus.”

KAUST’s Deep Technology Destination Program is one of the university’s recent efforts to accelerate key initiatives and research projects related to overarching social and economic goals and the advancement of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by attracting more promising startups that have the potential to provide current and future solutions to critical issues related to sustainability and health.

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