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Saudi Arabia’s Startup Investments Reach Record Highs

With 71 deals sealed, the investments in Saudi startups totaled up to $67 million last year.

With more of Saudi Arabia's focus shifting away from reliance on oil and gas, the Kingdom's entrepreneurial ecosystem has already felt the effect, with startup investments increasing by a remarkable 92% in 2019, compared to 2018, according to a report by startup directory, Magnitt.

Totaling $67 million, the highlights of the 71 startup investments include Dokkan’s Series B round, which secured the e-commerce startup $5.6 million in December, and artificial intelligence startup UnitX's  $2 million investment from Saudi investors back in October. 

“With the government clearly identifying innovation and entrepreneurship as one of their key focuses in line with Vision 2030, many new initiatives have been launched in 2018 and 2019,” says Philip Bahoshy, the CEO and founder of Magnitt, 

“Usually, these initiatives take time to come to fruition, but we have already seen their impact on the ecosystem in the country and the MENA region,” he adds. Moreover, Magnitt’s Saudi Venture Capital Company-sponsored report has revealed more interesting findings.

With the establishment of new accelerator programmes, such as the Misk 500 MENA Accelerator and the Misk Growth Accelerator, and new fund of funds by entities such as PIF’s Jada and Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), 41 institutions made investments in Saudi-based startups, which is an unprecedented amount. In fact, 48 Saudi Arabian investors pumped money into MENA-based startups in 2019, ranking first in the region, followed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

This sponsorship deal between Magnitt and SVC comes in line with Saudi Arabia’s paradigm shift away from an oil-based economy. Established in 2018, SVC is a government venture capital which is part of the Private Sector Stimulus. The VC aims to minimise current equity funding gaps for startups by investing $750 million.


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