Three ventures to empower, inspire Saudi youth launched

Encompass the full range of requirements for the creation of a new sector within the economy

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The Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s MiSK Foundation on Wednesday launched a trio of new strategic ventures in Riyadh aimed at comprehensively building the skills, knowledge and capability for economic growth within the Saudi Arabian tech sector.

The targeted ventures, entitled MiSK Academy, MiSK Technovation and MiSK Booster encompass the full range of requirements for the creation of a new sector within the Saudi economy including building human capacity, driving innovation and directing funding.

They mark a significant new development in the foundation’s work to empower, nurture and inspire young Saudi men and women to fully realize their potential as part of the Kingdom’s on-going economic transformation.


Global competitivenes

Commenting on the announcement, MiSK Global Forum spokesperson Shaima Hamidaddin said: “Taken together, the MiSK Academy, Technovation hub and Booster fund will offer Saudi Arabia a platform to become a globally competitive nation in technology. We recognize the unique opportunities that the future of technology will create in the global economy and we want to encourage the entrepreneurial ambition of Silicon Valley in the attitudes and approach of Saudi youth.”

The MiSK Academy will bring international standard training to Saudi Arabia, covering the gamut of high demand skills required in the digital economy. MiSK has set the new academy annual goals of training 5,000 leaders, developers and designers across all major and emergent disciplines from app development, coding and artificial intelligence to gaming, virtual reality and animation.

The academy will also be sponsoring 400 traineeships in 50 leading international companies including tech, media and consulting sector businesses. MiSK will be working with several partners in the new venture, including Silicon Valley’s Udacity, which offers online tech-focused educational courses.

The MiSK Technovation initiative will focus on supporting the new young talent coming through by helping incubate new ideas and creating a community to convert talent and ideas into tangible business initiatives. Through the Technovation initiative, MiSK hopes to build a community of digital experts across the fields of programming, big data, cyber security, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. It will focus on the development of new domestic applications, and on increasing the number of women operating in the sector.

The MiSK Booster forms three components. Firstly, a venture capital fund that will oversee an initial $50m fund for investing in start-ups that can help provide new digital solutions and services to assist the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the country’s economy away from oil and grow new sectors and employment opportunities. It will also offer ‘incubator’ and ‘accelerator’ functions, which will help develop startups and create a community that enables mentorship among Saudi peers, setting the standards for entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia.

Ambitious nature

Pointing to the ambitious nature of the new strategy, Shaima Hamidaddin said: “We are confident through the new partnerships we are establishing that these goals are achievable. This is a strategy intended to be self-sustaining over the long term. We want to bring young Saudis together with their peers across the world, to link them to leading global companies, and build up our own mentoring capacity in the kingdom. Overall, it underscores the scale of ambition within the country for economic transformation and its commitment to investing in the leaders of tomorrow to become constructive and engaged participants in the global economy.”

This report first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Nov. 17, 2016

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