Wadi Makkah Starups Forum’s Main Dialogue

Wadi Makkah Starups Forum’s Main Dialogue

{:ar}الجلسة الحوارية الرئيسية للملتقى السعودي للشركات الناشئة{:}{:en}Wadi Makkah Starups Forum’s Main Dialogue{:}

HRH Prince Dr. Turki bin Saud Al Saud, President of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), started the dialogue organized by Umm Al-Qura University (UQU), represented in Makkah TechnoValley Co. (Wadi Makkah), within the First Saudi Startups Forum (SSF). Prince Turki Al Saud spoke of the need to support small and medium enterprises by large companies to ensure continuity. 

During the main dialogue headed by Mr. Talat Zaki Hafiz, Secretary General of the Media & Banking Awareness Committee and Spokesperson for Saudi Banks, it was revealed that performance measures in KACST aimed to establish 600 medium and small companies in cooperation with universities until 2020. Moreover, Prince Turki Al Saud said, “KACST supports research projects at SAR 500 million a year to establish such companies. This year, the number of research projects delivered to the program reached 100 projects; we will support a number of them.”

In turn, Dr. Abdul-Rahman Muhammad Al-Asemi, Deputy Minister of Education, confirmed that universities were a basic incubator for youth, scientific research and innovation. He added that about SAR 6 billion were allocated for research and development as part of the National Transformation initiatives. In addition, cooperation existed between a large number of universities and KACST in programs and activities related to promoting entrepreneurship and encouraging young people to engage in the establishment and operation of small enterprises. Besides, considerable efforts were exerted at the level of public education to establish the principles of research and innovation among students. This was added to the many and various exhibitions and activities, as such exhibitions and arrangements contributed to the creation of a suitable environment for entrepreneurship.   

On his part, HE Dr. Saad bin Muhammad Mareq, Advisor to Makkah Province Emir and Head of the Integration Development Center (IDC), announced that the methodology of IDC saved SAR 2 billion to the state treasury. He explained that HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal established IDC to keep pace with any future plans for the region in harmony with the private sector. He added that the three objectives of IDC were identified as follows: Supporting the private sector to invest in Makkah Region, solving obstacles faced by businessmen, as well as following up the projects that started earlier with the participation of the private sector.

“We hired a specialized company that attracted 30 young Saudis. Moreover, IDC managed through its methodology and mechanism of work to save SAR 2 billion to the state treasury. We care inside IDC for small and medium enterprises in order for it to help start-ups and be concerned with youth and projects of innovation and entrepreneurship,” Dr. Mareq added.

In the same context, Dr. Ghassan bin Ahmad Al-Suleiman, Governor of the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (SMEA), said that measuring the work environment depended on the vision of the leading state and strive to reduce the gap with it. He added that raising KSA to the world’s 15 largest economies could not be achieved without a transition to the knowledge economy. Therefore, it was necessary to take advantage of the global competencies and start where others ended. He considered that it was the responsibility of all the concerned actors and sectors to achieve the objectives of the vision. He pointed out that SMEA was about to complete the National Strategy for the Development of Enterprises, and its initiatives which were distributed among SMEA, universities and other sectors, in order to empower small and medium enterprises. He also identified five obstacles facing small businesses such as bureaucracy, finance, market access and competitiveness on Saudi and technical personnel.   

Within the same framework, Mr. Mohammed bin Hammoud Almeshekah, Deputy Minister for Planning & Development at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), pointed out that the mission of the Ministry was to develop the digital economy and empower the homeland and the citizen to innovate creative models in entrepreneurship. This would depend mainly on achieving the environment and the basic capabilities that were based on the infrastructure. He added that, with the guidance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His honest Crown Prince, an initiative to support the deployment of high-speed internet broadband to more than 2 million households and businesses was launched. Moreover, entrepreneurs were sought to be empowered by acquiring open data that enabled them to produce different innovative models.

Within the same vein, Mr. Khaled bin Muhammad Al-Aboodi, CEO and General Manager at Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) at the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), said that ICD endeavored to embrace the support of entrepreneurship as an increasing force in changing people’s lives. He added that ICD set several objectives to facilitate access to finance, to create a legal framework that promoted competitiveness, to prioritize enhancement of the financial environment and to establish a data framework on SMEs. He also noted that IDB established the first fund of its kind that invested in enterprises with SAR 1 billion in partnership with the Social Development Bank (SDB). In addition, and three years ago, 14 Saudi companies were launched to scale up and seek their independence over five years. Another fund was also established at SAR 3 million in cooperation with King Abdullah City for Science and Technology (KACST) in order to localize research across business incubators.

On his part, Dr. Bakri bin Maatouq Assas, UQU President and Chairman of Wadi Makkah Company, said that creativity and leadership were not limited to the scientific departments; they included all specializations as evidenced by our early scientists. He added that what mattered in UQU was the quality of outputs, excellence and creativity. He explained that UQU included about 7000 staff members who delivered many researches annually, some of which were not inventive and delivered for promotion, not amounting to being innovative or inventive and obtained a patent but then were not converted into products. He highlighted the experience of UQU after filtering 1100 researches to 23 innovative researches that could be transformed into products. Therefore, he stressed that the world built its children in light of the vision of their countries. He confirmed that it was the duty of the families, educational institutions, companies and sectors to apply KSA Vision 2030; it was not the responsibility of one society segment.

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