Over 500 applicants have been whittled down to 45, as the Saudi ecosystem’s most eclectic and far-reaching competition heads into what is shaping up to be a fiercely contested semi-final stage.
A landmark programme for the increasingly eclectic local ecosystem, the MITEF Saudi Arabia competition has come to be known for its incredible showcase of entrepreneurship. Now in its fifth edition, the competition has gone virtual this time round, but that hasn’t stopped it from fulfilling the promise of being one of the most dynamic competitions of its kind in MENA.
As an official part of MIT Enterprise Forum, the event is much more than a pitch competition and offers a seven month-long programme anchored by virtual roadshows, webinars and mentorships sessions and more.
Hitting the ground running for 2021, the competition is now in its semi-final stage, which will see 45 startups compete for a place in the finals. The semi-finalists have been chosen by a 100-strong jury of business and academic experts from across the world, who were looking for three key things: creativity, potential to expand and positive impact on the community. The semi-finalists will be put the through the wringer, so to speak, with an accelerator programme built on the fundamentals of Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup - a veritable A-to-Z of entrepreneurship written by Bill Aulet, the Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship at MIT and Professor of the Practice at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Despite the hard times we have gone through this year due to the global pandemic, entrepreneurs were able to overcome this challenge with a lot of creativity and innovation that contributed to curbing this pandemic.
But who are the chosen startups that have, out of over 500 applicants, turned heads across the competition’s three tracks?
On the Startups Track are Jirah, Nugttah, Grintafy, Future Platform, Winch, Meeza, Hudhud AI, LOGEXA, Linkers IoT, Tafeyette Inc., Spider Connect, Shgardi, BashQash, PhysioHome and Hesba.
The Ideas track, meanwhile, will pit Genomez, Hydrojeen, Sawty, Estidama, Hakawati Game, Carissimi, Msaha, Themar, Qawam, SARsat, Aquash, Mthmr, White Helmet, Harreef and Vending Machine Layer against each other.
Elsewhere, the Social Track includes Amaleed, Cube Dx, Oqsosa, Tadwir, The Chef, Tawasal, Nusf, CoCreate, Connect SA, TAGitGames, Ithnain, Helper Robot, Ryya, Baleegh and Ad Astra.
The Startups Track will offer prize money of SR100,000 to the winner, plus SR25,000 and SR15,000 for second and third place respectively. The winner of the Ideas Track goes home with SR20,000 to bring the idea to life, while second and third place win SR15,000 and SR10,000. Finally, the Social Track will distribute prizes of SR100,00, SR25,000 and SR15,000.
The sheer number of applicants and the subsequent variety in the participants, speaks volumes of a competition that continues to thrive, even in the face of the pandemic.
“This year, the MITEF Saudi Arabia Competition saw remarkable progress in terms of the quality of entries in various categories and fields, including e-commerce, education technologies, consumer services, productivity applications, in addition to digital technologies and healthcare,” said Bayan Alghamdi, Head of the Entrepreneurship Programs and MITEF Saudi at Community Jameel, a partnering organisation. The total number of applicants since the launch of the competition in 2015 has reached more than 8,500 participants from all over Saudi Arabia. Despite the hard times we have gone through this year due to the global pandemic, entrepreneurs were able to overcome this challenge with a lot of creativity and innovation that contributed to curbing this pandemic.”
So what now? Well, the second round of judging will be held on February 20th, when the finalists will be announced. From there, the finalists will have less than a month before the third round on March 3rd, which will be followed up by the Startup Investment Forum on the 4th, 5th and 6th of the month.
You can find out more about the semi-finalists on the MITEF Saudi website.
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