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Vision 2030

NEOM’s OXAGON to launch hackathon and startup accelerator to support Saudi talent

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NEOM’s city of OXAGON will soon launch “Hackathon” and “Accelerator” initiatives that are in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, to foster an inclusive, innovative and collaborative ecosystem in the Kingdom, NEOM announced in a statement on Wednesday.

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The three-day OXAGON Hackathon will be launched in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education and is set to be held in Riyadh where it will run from October 6 to 8. It will see the participation of public and private universities in the Kingdom.

The hackathon aims to bolster cooperation within the country’s startup community and support Saudi talent in the field of technology, manufacturing and innovation under the supervision of specialized experts in various fields of cutting-edge technologies, striving to transform entrepreneurs’ innovative ideas into projects.

The OXAGON Hackathon will reportedly focus on four key areas which represent NEOM’s industrial ambitions: Technology in the service of people, water innovation to develop sustainable solutions that address water scarcity challenges, and green hydrogen and e-fuels, all of which are in line with the Gulf country’s commitment to clean energy alternatives for the future.

The Hackathon will then be followed by the “Accelerator” later this year, supported by Blossom Accelerator, a Saudi-based firm which specializes in supporting entrepreneurs in the region.

All participants of the Hackathon will be encouraged to draw on four key capabilities that are important for OXAGON, including Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Sensing and Internet of Things (IoT), Material Science, Nano Technology and Robotics, and Automated Guided Vehicles and Drones.

The intensive 12-week accelerator program has been designed to provide entrepreneurs will early-stage startup support – ranging from knowledge and resources to networking opportunities – aiming to help them establish their companies and attract angel investors and venture capitalists.

In addition to applicants from Saudi universities, homegrown innovators from across the Kingdom are also invited to participate in the Hackathon and Accelerator with a chance to turn their innovative solutions into viable startup businesses, according to NEOM’s statement.

OXAGON will provide the three finalist teams from the hackathon with the chance to participate in the three-month program to present their concepts and be provided with access to industry leaders, experts, mentors and potential investors to help them fully realize their visions and support their startups.

“This unique partnership shows that OXAGON sees education as a cornerstone of innovation communities, and we are excited about working with the Ministry of Education to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Saudi universities,” OXAGON CEO Vishal Wanchoo said in a statement.

“The launch of both initiatives, the hackathon and accelerator, will contribute to building a generation of future pioneers and leaders, developing national talent and contributing to the Kingdom’s economic diversification plans, in accordance with Saudi Vision 2030,” Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Research and Innovation at the Ministry of Education, Nasser al-Aqeeli said.

“Our partnership with OXAGON provides participants from Saudi public and private universities the opportunity to implement their innovative ideas, developing sustainable solutions that support the future of clean industries domestically and globally, with the added benefit from the expertise that OXAGON offers,” he continued.

Echoing his sentiment, Blossom’s Executive Director Eman Shakoor said that the new initiatives were “truly unique” in the way that they focus on “the power of the people who are innovating within Saudi Arabia.”

She said the initiatives are an “inclusive innovation program, and we invite creators from different genders, backgrounds, skillsets and who’ve faced different adversities to participate. We believe the pillar to innovation and economic growth is inclusion.”

NEOM is committed to boosting sustainable economic diversification and talent development.

Perhaps one of Saudi Arabia’s most important projects under Vision 2030, the NEOM region is set to inspire and challenge human potential with world-class technology, fueled by data and intelligence to interact with its population.

Launched in November 2021, OXAGON is a future-centric place that strives to encourage ideas that have the potential to change the world. It aims to bring together a radical new model for future manufacturing centers, embodying NEOM’s philosophy of redefining the way humanity lives and works in the future.

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