Techstars, MCIT and Raed Ventures Announce The Riyadh Techstars Accelerator

Apr 01, 2021

The new Riyadh-based program will help the growing startup ecosystem drive more innovation and entrepreneurship for startups building and growing in the MENA region  

Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Raed Ventures, a MENA-focused early-stage venture capital firm, today announced a partnership to launch The Riyadh Techstars Accelerator. The accelerator joins Saudi Arabia's budding startup ecosystem to work with startups and entrepreneurs building and growing their businesses in the Middle East and North Africa, underscoring Techstars’ mission of making innovation and entrepreneurship more accessible and inclusive to more entrepreneurs.

The Riyadh Techstars Accelerator will focus on attracting startups to MENA and paving the way for future innovation in the region’s digital economy. While the accelerator will be Techstars’ first in Saudi Arabia, the organization has been active in the region for years through more than 700 Techstars Startup Weekend events, the Techstars Dubai Accelerator and the Techstars Hub71 Accelerator in Abu Dhabi.

The accelerator is an extension of earlier cooperation between the Ministry and Techstars last July through the Techstars Startup Weekend COVID-19 KSA, where more than 550 Saudi entrepreneurs, of which two-thirds were female, attended virtual panels, workshops and networking events to address challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With entrepreneurship on the rise in Saudi Arabia, and the unwavering community commitment to developing a strong startup ecosystem in the region, putting down roots in Riyadh is something we’ve been looking forward to,” said Gagan Bhatia, Techstars General Manager. “We’re excited to work with MCIT to drive innovation in the Kingdom, supporting entrepreneurs and helping them advance their ideas and businesses in the region. At Techstars, we believe that great ideas can come from anywhere. We look forward to making entrepreneurship more accessible and bringing more opportunities to more entrepreneurs in MENA through this partnership.”

The Riyadh Techstars Accelerator will begin accepting applications May 10, 2021, for a 13-week program that will take place from November 2021 through February 2022. A Techstars Managing Director will lead the accelerator with support from a Techstars program manager, along with leadership and mentors from MCIT. Participants in the three-month program will receive funding, hands-on mentorship from the Techstars and MCIT networks, access to curated workshops and resources, and access to the Techstars global network for life.

“Technology and innovation-based entrepreneurship is a key enabler to driving the achievement of Vision 2030, our nation’s blueprint for social transformation and economic diversification. We have a young population, 70% of whom are youth. These are our digital natives and we want to leverage their energy and curiosity to leapfrog with innovation,” said Dr. Ahmed Altheneyan, Deputy Minister for Future Skills and Digital Entrepreneurship. “The ministry and Techstars will come together to scale the impact of their combined resources and capabilities to truly accelerate digital entrepreneurship, across the Kingdom, where we are already witnessing the growth of a vibrant venture capital investment community, rapid technology adoption, and how digital transformation is allowing companies to re-imagine themselves to become more competitive.”

“Empowering founders is the way for us to create a growing economy and achieve Vision 2030," added Talal Alasmari, Raed Venture Founding Partner. "We see this program as a catalyst for a new wave of regional entrepreneurs. With Techstars’ network effect we can introduce regional founders to global experiences and create a new cycle of emerging startups.”

Startups interested in the accelerator are encouraged to learn more by visiting The Riyadh Techstars Accelerator page or by expressing interest here. Corporations interested in learning more about Techstars Accelerators and Techstars’ dedication to corporate innovation can learn more at techstars.com/corporate-innovation-partnerships.