The global technology event “LEAP”, being hosted in Riyadh, witnessed a historic moment Tuesday with the announcement to launch “The Garage” a world-class innovation hub to support emerging and disruptive technology based startups.
During the event Dr. Munir Eldesouki, president of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) stated, “The Garage is designed to allow entrepreneurs to experiment with their ideas rapidly and to foster cutting-edge technology startups by providing integrated services that include business incubation, mentorship programs, enrichment activities and an open area workspace.”
“The launching of The Garage is a direct result of the unlimited support and commitment from the Kingdom’s leadership in enhancing Saudi Arabia’s innovation ecosystem and encouraging the establishment of emerging technology startup companies,” commented Dr. Eldesouki on the sidelines of the conference.
The project has received immense empowerment from Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.
“It is the product of sincere collaborative efforts and a multi-stakeholder partnership between KACST, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP), to facilitate closely aligned activities and open access to KACST’s labs, rapid prototyping facilities and specialized capabilities that will provide additional support and technical services to entrepreneurs, especially in “deep-tech” startups” he added.
Dr. Eldesouki explained the name behind “The Garage” by revealing, “it was inspired by the origin stories of the world’s top tech companies like Apple, Google and Amazon, which famously launched their businesses from the inside of a Garage”.
He continued, “Driven by this inspirational concept, the team worked to transform a multi-level parking lot structure strategically located in the heart of Riyadh into an innovation hub, in addition to enabling access to KACST’s elite group of researchers and scientists.”
In highlighting the subtle aspects of “The Garage”, Dr. Eldesouki stated, “The Garage seeks to establish a successfully proven innovative environment, such as Silicon Valley, Station F and others.
“It aims to create a similar startup culture that integrates innovation processes, creative thinking, design testing, and entrepreneurship under one roof, while attracting the brightest minds from across the Kingdom and abroad, encouraging them to turn their dreams into realities, their ideas into innovations, and their startups into unicorns.”
“The Garage will become the ideal place to engage with entrepreneurs and promote the establishment of startups to achieve economic growth and financial sustainability by the commercialization of innovative solutions into products and services.
“At the same time working to develop the business skills of entrepreneurs through mentorship programs and workshops with stakeholders,” said Dr. Eldesouki.
From another point of view, the CEO of SAFCSP, Eng. Muteb Alqany stated, “The Garage project is a perfect bridge to connect high-tech startups with potential investors.” He elaborated by indicating that “grants could reach up to SR100,000 per qualified business idea, while investments may exceed SR500,000 for the most promising startups.”
Additionally, Eng. Alqany stressed, “incubation at The Garage passes through several stages. It starts from the evaluation and selection of business ideas, then engagement and incubation stage, including a wide range of services, such as technical and administrative support, mentoring and skills development.”
“The programs offered within The Garage will focus mainly on incubating business ideas in emerging and disruptive technologies, for instance, solutions related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and Digital Technologies of the Future,” he said.