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On the backdrop of a record-breaking year for the Saudi VC space, observed a 167% YoY growth in capital backing local startups driven by a 40%YoY increase in transactions closed by Q3 2021, we have also observed a striking dip in Early-Stage deals. In Saudi Arabia and in similar Emerging Venture Markets across MENA, Early-Stage deals fluctuating poses a challenge for future deal flow and new venture generation.
Even though capital and investor interest seem to be as present as ever, where the average round size in early-stage deals in KSA has increased from $0.2M in 2018 to $1M by Q3 2021, Early-Stage funding rounds accounted for only 26% of all deals this year. As Early-stage startups are crucial for the ongoing advancement of the ecosystem, key players in Saudi Arabia have been pushing for early growth opportunities where Public-funded investors like Sanabil Investments and private equity investors like Wa’ed have kept a healthy pipeline of early-stage rounds in their portfolios this year.
However, to capitalize on the tremendous access to capital, world-class technologies, and global networks in the Saudi VC ecosystem, the local talent should be able to match the burgeoning opportunities. In their latest of these attempts, the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, Monshaat, has opened its latest specialized innovation space, Thakaa Center. Here’s how they’re raising the bar and creating a talent-filled ecosystem:
Thakaa Center is the first specialized innovation center to serve both entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises in Saudi Arabia as part of the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (Monshaat). The center’s main focus is to support startups, improve existing SMEs, and empower entrepreneurs in utilizing emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Data Sciences, Internet of Things, and Cyber Security, allowing them to benefit from the latest Tech tools and the most successful projects to enhance their performance and competitiveness not only in the region but also globally. Thakaa Center’s vision is built around three main goals:
· Supporting SMEs by providing them with the necessary technologies and tools to gain a strong competitive advantage in the market.
· Empowering entrepreneurs by providing the resources they need to launch their projects and marketplace products.
· Stimulating the ecosystem through innovation camps, challenges, training workshops, and consultations to increase the proficiency of the national human resources and prepare them for future market trends.
In order to expand the circle of support and create the greatest impact, Thakaa Center is keen to present a variety of programs in different forms:
Thakaa consultations Personalized advisory sessions with experts and specialists to answer questions and help with the challenges that the beneficiaries might face in realizing their ideas or building their facilities.
Thakaa opportunities With the maturity and advancement of IoT and cybersecurity technologies, the opportunities for business development have risen. The center presents a set of ideas that can be developed as products based on technologies while supporting talents by enabling them to build and launch smart solutions to real market problems to increase the number of technical facilities in the Saudi market.
Thakaa challenges Believing in the great value of collective innovation; Thakaa Center seeks to link the owners of complex challenges (from large companies or government entities) with entrepreneurs and talents to produce innovative solutions.
Rowad Thakaa Program To develop pioneering facilities, in any field, through an intensive program designed to support business owners in digital transformation and to find the latest technologies and tools to raise the level of their technical ability and competitiveness.
Thakaa Library The centre aims to enrich the Arabic content of learning resources in the fields of technology and entrepreneurship in the forms of:
· Recorded workshops specifically for entrepreneurs and owners of SMEs, designed to develop their skills in using modern technology to expand their opportunities.
· Guidebooks containing the most important concepts explained in a simplified manner.
· Useful links for students, entrepreneurs, or business owners, carefully selected by professionals to be of help in management, data science, and artificial intelligence.
· Real data prepared for use in developing data analysis skills, with the possibility of using it to reveal promising investment opportunities.
· Technical Articles & infographics carefully selected by our experts in AI and DS, suitable for non-specialists.
· Templates designed specifically for entrepreneurs and SMEs to develop their skills in presenting, planning, and introducing their ideas and facilities.
Thakaa community The center has set forth to build a conscious technical society with high capabilities; Therefore, they bring the latest topics related to AI and DS and share them with the community. The center provides opportunities for individuals to participate and exchange knowledge through group meetings, as well as hosting influencers and experts in the fields of technology and entrepreneurship.
At the core of their community, the center aims to form a link between entrepreneurs, investors, and SMEs as well as those wishing to invest in the public and private sectors by joining their network as service seekers or providers, to form a self-sufficient community that provides comprehensive services to all beneficiaries. Thakaa Center opens up to host a platitude of tie-ups in different forms including advisory support in the partners’ specialization, investing in startups and launching their products, sponsoring programs, providing services and consultations depending on the partners’ fields.
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