Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category
The King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology (KACST) has announced the setup of a new fund, a first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, to finance small and medium technological firms, according to a report by Arab News.
KACST’s Badir Technology Incubator signed a cooperation agreement with The Investor for Securities Co., a boutique investment banking firm, to set up the fund. The agreement was signed by Prince Turki bin Saud, vice president for research institutes, and Abdullah Al-Fowzan, chairman of The Investor for Securities Co..
In a statement on the occasion, Muhammad Al-Suwaiyel, president of KACST, said the agreement would boost the Kingdom’s technological development.
National Net Ventures, better known as N2V, and one of the top internet groups in the Middle East, have been on an investment roll lately, announcing three new investments in regional startups within the past couple of weeks alone.
The three startups cover three different areas, following N2V’s strategy to diversify their portfolio of internet properties and expand regionally and globally to cover new areas of interest for users in the Arab world.
Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), has announced their three first investments in Lebanese-based companies: Pin-Pay, iLevel, and Multilane.
This round of funding from MEVP is meant as a growth investment in these companies to assist them in pursuing regional growth and development plans in addition to extending their product offerings.
A bit over two years ago, I wrote a post about the Arab social bookmarking services out there, listing the existing options, how good they looked and how well they seemed to be doing, identifying the top ones at that time.
If anyone were to pull up that same list today and go check on each one of the sites, they’d find that some have shut down, others have become useless and spam ridden, some others have become pretty much inactive, and only one or two are still holding on. What’s clear though is that these social bookmarking services never caught on with Arab web users, and never achieved their founders’ initial dreams for them.
However there are some new kids on the block, who are here to take another stab at social bookmarking and facilitating content discovery for users in the Arab world.
Egypt’s Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) is partnering up with Vodafone Egypt to launch MobileAppsAcademy, a contest and a program for sponsoring developers of mobile programs and applications in Egypt.
The initiative aims at preparing a generation of talented developers and helping them generate innovative ideas conforming to the needs of the Egyptian and Middle Eastern market.
Another purpose of this initiative is to highlight Egypt as a regional hub for projects and ideas and to encourage the creation of high-quality mobile applications. It aims to work on raising the local production through encouraging and sponsoring the skills of local developers, offering opportunities for talented Egyptians and turning their ideas into real projects that can contribute to the development of the ICT sector.
Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 has recently announced it will be launching a new investment fund called ‘AppsArabia‘, which promotes and supports mobile app development throughout the Middle East and North Africa using the Software Development Kits (SDKs) of all the major mobile and online platforms (e.g. Android (Google), iPhone OS (Apple), BlackBerry, Facebook, OpenSocial and Ovi (Nokia)).
The fund will be offered by twofour54 ibtikar, which provides funding and support to start-up and early stage Arabic content initiatives.
AppsArabia is led by David Ashford, and the plan for it is to invest in the best ideas for apps from entrepreneurs, app developers and businesses, and provide commercial guidance, resources and marketing support to make these apps successful.
The MIT Arab Business Plan Competition is a competition designed to encourage all entrepreneurs in the Arab world to start their own company and, ultimately, create a nest of leading firms in the Arab world.
The current version of the competition was officially launched on October 12th 2009 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The competition went through a number of rounds, including different teams covering the following sectors: Energy, Engineering, Healthcare, Internet, Software and Telecom.
The final round just took place at a ceremony in Cairo, Egypt, and the awards for this year were handed out. The winners of this edition of the MIT Arab Business Plan Competition are as follows:
First place: The Little Engineer (Lebanon) – Prize: $US 50,000
An after-school edutainment center which introduces kids and teens [age 4-16+] to pre-engineering courses such as robotics, physics, electricity, electronics, renewable energy and more.
Team: Rana El Chemaitelly, Albert Shamieh, Nadia Alamah, Marwa Harb.
King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD) in Jordan is planning to launch a new ICT seed capital fund in two months with the aim of solving the problem of innovative new startups in the country that need to secure some early stage funding.
The new fund will be called Oasis 500, and the goal is for it to provide an initial capital of between $50,000 and $100,000 to 500 startups. It will be mainly focused on funding new ideas, especially in media, online, content, applications and the service industry.
At this point, it seems that it’s still undecided though whether the fund will be expanded and made accessible to startups from outside Jordan.
Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), the region’s largest integrated technology park, is planning to launch a global technology fund middle of next year.
“Some of the investments will be from ourselves, some from local and regional investors and also international investors,” said Ray Milhem, the new chief technology officer of technology investment at DSOA.
He said, it will largely target companies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as well as global companies. The fund’s amount has not been finalised yet.
The fund is another means to attract research and development and manufacturing companies to set up a base in Dubai Silicon Oasis. And they are already talking to a number of companies to establish manufacturing in Dubai Silicon Oasis, with a concentration on start-ups.
Even though the focus is on the Middle East and North Africa, there are some start-ups in Europe and North America that they are looking at for potential investments, in order to get them to open higher-engineering offices in Dubai Silicon Oasis.
Earlier, the authority announced a budget of Dh25 billion set aside for investment in the coming years at DSOA. The whole project has already attracted foreign investments worth Dh1.4 billion. It has set aside about Dh500 million to invest in start-ups that will be spent over the next five years.
Additionally, private investment into real estate at DSOA is Dh13 billion, while Dh10 billion is budgeted for the third phase of the project’s development.
According to Milhem, the authority is in talks with several companies and should be making some decisions and announcing some deals soon.
[Source: Gulf News]
twofour54 ibtikar, the media industry funding and support pillar of twofour54 Abu Dhabi, has launched twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab, a grant funding scheme aimed at engaging with young Arabs and stimulating creativity in order to build a long term sustainable media industry in the Arab world.
twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab offers grant funding and business support to talented Arab individuals from the UAE and across the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, helping great media and entertainment ideas that would benefit from seed funding, development guidance and planning to get off the ground.
It offers funds ranging from US$1,000 to US$50,000 for creative and original ideas across all media platforms including television, radio, film, publishing, online, mobile, music, gaming and animation.
twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab and young Arab funding recipients will engage in regular brainstorming sessions to develop ideas into fully fledged creative projects. A key part of this collaborative process will include budget creation and training in project execution and support throughout.
Tarek Ghattas, twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab manager, added: “We want people to come forward with their media and entertainment ideas. We are looking for passion and originality and there is no such thing as a bad idea. This is an opportunity for young Arabs to unleash their inner creativity and have a go at turning vision into reality – coming to us means never having to look back and wonder what you could have been.”
twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab expands twofour54 ibtikar’s funding portfolio, which also includes ibtikar ventures, an investment fund that focuses on start-up and early stage media and entertainment initiatives.