nder the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Prince Dr. Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed Al Saud, President of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) inaugurated today the 7th Annual Saudi Technology Incubation Conference 2016, organized by KACST at its headquarters in the presence of selections of technology incubation leaders, decision makers and experts and specialists involved in technology innovation, entrepreneurship as well as technology incubation and acceleration..
Prince Dr. Turki, highlighted, at the outset of the Conference, that convening this Conference comes in line with the keen interest of the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, in scientific research and technological development in various fields due to their effective and tangible role in advancing development and transforming the Kingdom's economy into a knowledge-based one driven by creativity and innovation with the aim of diversifying sources of national income, achieving sustainable economic development as well as reducing risks associated with relying on natural resources as a major source of income.
The Prince stressed that KACST exerts strenuous efforts on research investment in the industry through a number of initiatives and strategic alliances, whereas BADIR Program for Technology Incubators and Accelerators is considered one of them, which works to promote the concept of pioneering technological research and ventures in the Kingdom and provide support as well as care for the creators, innovators and entrepreneurs to help them turn their ideas into technology ventures that highly contribute to speed up the march of the national economy, create more job opportunities for the Saudi generations, not to mention BADIR’s role in supporting establishment of technology incubators in various regions of the Kingdom.
KACST President affirmed that KACST works in close coordination with various funds and institutions to provide organizational and technological infrastructure and resources to support and encourage small and medium enterprises to invest in high value-added technological areas to achieve the transition into the knowledge economy, lauding the work-commencement of "Riyadh Taqnia Fund " with the capital of 450 million Saudi riyals, launched lately in strategic partnership among Taqnia Company, Riyad Capital, Public Investment Fund, Saudi Bank for Credit and Savings, Public Pension Agency, and Human Resources Development Fund to bridge gap in financing the emerging technological ventures.
For his part, Mr. Nawaf al-Sahaf, Executive Director of BADIR Program for Technology Incubators, underlined that this Conference, characterized by the active participation of an elite of experts and specialists in technology incubators and accelerators, seeks to strengthen and consolidate the concept of technology incubators and accelerators, entrepreneurship and innovation in Saudi Arabia as it also aspires to provide a general platform that enables the participation of financial institutions, and governmental bodies and organizations, universities, research centers, the private sector and chambers of commerce, to discuss and work together in order to tool up the best practices in the field of technology incubators and accelerators programs and entrepreneurship as a driving engine for the development of knowledge-based economy.
Mr. Al-Sahaf revealed that there are five technology incubators operating under KACST umbrella in the technological areas of information and communications, biotechnology and technology advanced manufacturing with more than 92 technological projects, 29 out of which have been assessed of a market value of over 216 million Saudi riyals,\; pointing out that BADIR Office for Saudi Inventors’ Services has been established over the past year and contributed since its inception it assisting and guiding more than 60 inventors in drafting their patent applications, getting specialized consultancy as well as covering the financial dues of more than 630 patents application.
Frank Salzgeber, Head of Technology Transfer Program Office, Directorate of Technical and Quality Management, European Space Agency, Germany, was another key speaker in the Conference spotting the light on space and satellite technologies added-value to the technology entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem in Europe.
Then, activities of the Conference were kicked off by holding the first session, chaired by Ozan Somez, Manager, New Ventures Acceleration Program, King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) that focused on challenges facing start-up technology entrepreneurs and how to support them. The second session held under the title “Supporting technology to grow: the challenges” was chaired by Eng. Khalid Sulaimany, CEO, Sirb Angle Investor Network, KSA while Eng. Rakan Al Eidi, Managing Director, Endeavor, KSA, chaired the third session that discussed how to support technology ventures go global and challenges that may encounter them.
It is worth mentioning that the conference will carry on its activates tomorrow, holding four sessions to discuss entrepreneurship programs and their support for the entrepreneurs technological ventures, challenges facing universities in supporting innovation and turning it into products as well as developing technological skills in addition to lessons and expertise learned from the Conference’s sessions.