Under the patronage of the Governorate of Madinah Region and the Economic Development Center with the support of Bab Rizq Jameel and Community Jameel Saudi, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab and MIT Enterprise Forum Saudi Arabia came together to bring the biggest entrepreneurship competition to the region with Startup Competition.
Out of the 2,600+ startups that applied to the competition from all over the Arab world, 60 semifinalist teams were chosen to participate in the Bootcamp and Awards ceremony of Startup Competition that took place in Al Madina Al Munawara, KSA from February 17 to 23, 2022.
This event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our partners Sabic (Strategic Partner), Aramco (Strategic Partner), Monsha’at (Government Partner), Almadinah Almunawwarah Chamber (Business Alliance Partner), Invest Saudi (Investment Partner), Taibah University (Bootcamp Partner), Namaa Almunawara (Entrepreneurship Knowledge Partner), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (Innovation Partner), University of Prince Mugrin (Hospitality Partner), MIT Reap (Ecosystem Partner), Saudi Press Agency (Official Media Partner), Taibah Airports Operation Co. (Support Partner), Saudi Arabia Railways (Support Partner), Startup Scene (Media Partner), and Asharq Business (Media Partner).
All 60 semifinalist teams, from the three different tracks: Startups, Social Entrepreneurship, and Ideas Tracks, underwent an intensive 2-day Bootcamp at Taibah University provided by renowned trainers from KAUST, Amal Dokhan, Partner at 500 Global, and Ozan Sonmez, Founder at Zillion Pitches that covered topics such as pitching, storytelling, financial sustainability, defensibility, in addition to group mentorship activities and pitch practicing.
Afterwards, all 60 teams pitched to the Round 2 panels of judges on February 19 who assessed the teams based on MIT Enterprise Forum’s long-standing judging criteria: team, innovation, scalability, financial sustainability, and social impact (for the SE track only). The high intensity day ended with the announcement of 31 finalist teams who qualified to pitch to the Round 3 judges on February 22, 2022.
On February 20, the entrepreneurs were treated to a once in a lifetime experience where they went on a cultural tour which was organized by the Economic Development Center of the Governorate of Madinah Region. The tour included stops at the International Fair and Museum of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization, King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran, Suwaiqah Market, Madinah Art Center, Reef Albustan Farm, Abu Aljoud Resort and Albaidah Public Park. During the tour, the teams had a chance to experience local traditions, enjoy mouth-watering local cuisine, and take part in many activities such as mountain climbing, ATVs, a live fire show, among many others.
After the fun day that the entrepreneurs had, it was back to business at the King Salman International Convention Center where each team had a booth at the Startup Investment Forum (SIF) that was held on February 21-22, 2022. The Startup Competition teams were joined by international startups from all over the world who came to exhibit their projects during SIF and had the chance to meet with local and international investors.
On February 22, the finalist teams pitched to the third round of judges composed of HRH Prince Saud Bin Khalid Alfaisal, Deputy Governor of Emirate of Al-Madinah Province, HE Dr. Abdulaziz Alsarani, Rector of Taibah University, Ahmed Al Shugairi, CEO of Aram Alehsan Holding LTD, Amal Dokhan, Partner at 500 Global, Dominique Russo, CEO of M2 Strategy LLC, Mohammed S. Alyousif, CEO of Economic Development Center at the Governorate of Madinah Region, Mohammed Alamro, Director Of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Abulnasr, Secretary General of Almadinah Almunawarah Chamber, Saleh Akhtar, CEO of Namaa Al Munawara, Hadi Alshakori, Business Incubation Manager at ARAMCO, Nabil Al Rajeh, Rector at University of Muqrin, Osama Ashri, Supervisor at Saudi Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Initiative, Maha Taibah, Founder of EUNOIA, Wajeeh Moughrabiah, Director of Development at SABIC, and Ali Shenemer, CBDO at Bupa Arabia.
The competition culminated with the Start Smart Conference that was held on February 23, 2022 at the King Salman International Convention Center. The conference which focused on Green Economy through Entrepreneurship, held a series of panel discussions, the first of which was “Powering up the Future: A Green Driven Economy” that was moderated by Dominique Russo (Founder at SocietAI Technologies) and included Katarina Uherova Hasbani (Partner & Global Director of Strategy & Advisory at AESG), Dr. Ali Alsabhan (Head of Entrepreneurship at the Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture), and Florence Bulte (Chief Sustainability Officer at Chalhoub Group) as panelists. The panel discussed how governments and private sectors can encourage sustainable practices to ensure a green economy.
The conference also included a keynote speech by Dr. Daniel Isenberg, a world-renowned expert on entrepreneurship ecosystems, who talked about jump starting new growth with scale up ecosystems. The conference also included a Fireside Chat that highlighted the success stories of Marc Aoun, CEO of Compost Baladi (winner in the Social Entrepreneurship Track of the 12th Edition of Arab Startup Competition) and Basim Albeladi, CEO of Labayh (winner of the Social Entrepreneurship Track of the Saudi Startup Competition 2018). The Fireside Chat was moderated by Romanna Dada, Managing Partner at FLYFWD Ventures.
The final panel of the conference talked about Accelerating the Growth of the Saudi Entrepreneurship Ecosystem MIT REAP Case Study which was moderated by Osama Ashri, Supervisor at Saudi Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Initiative and include the panelists: Abdullah Alrakhis, Chairman Of The Board Of Trustees at National Development Program NDP, Dr. Phil Budden, Senior Lecturer & Advisor at MIT Management School, Mohammed Alamro, Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Ministry of Investment, and Muhammad Roomi, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Prince Mohammed Bin Salman College of Business & Entrepreneurship.
At the end of the Start Smart Conference, it was time to reveal the winners of the 3 tracks of the competition. After the long 6-month journey, we are proud to announce the winners of Startup Competition 2022:
- Winner: Yanzo (UAE)
- 1st Runner Up: IFIN Services (Bahrain)
- 2nd Runner Up: el-dokan, Inc. (Egypt)
Social Entrepreneurship Track:
- Winner: Key2enable Assistive Technology (UAE)
- 1st Runner Up: Zelij Invent (Morocco)
- 2nd Runner Up: Up-fuse.com (Egypt)
The winners went home with cash prizes and a lot of networking opportunities in addition to a lifetime experience in the holy city of Al Madina Al Munawarah, KSA.
With this, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab and MIT Enterprise Forum Saudi Arabia wrap up Startup Competition, alongside their partners that have long believed in the impact and importance of such initiatives in actively enabling the Arab entrepreneurship and digital technology ecosystem.