Saudi Arabia’s startup VC ecosystem grew record 65% y-on-y in H1 2021
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Saudi Arabia’s startup VC ecosystem grew record 65% y-on-y in H1 2021

Saudi Arabia’s startup VC ecosystem grew record 65% y-on-y in H1 2021

The upcoming global tech event, LEAP, will allow startups and platforms to present their ideas and innovations to secure investments

Leap Saudi Arabia

Startups based within the MENA region attracted over $1.2bn funding in H1 2021, according to startup data platform MAGNiTT.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to significant turmoil within the region’s economic landscape, but the economic recovery has also been swift and sustained.

Venture capital funding in H1 2021 in the MENA region has grown 64 per cent year-on-year and also increased 12 per cent over FY 2020.

Regionally, it was the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia that accounted for the lion’s share of all the funding received in the first half of this year, netting 71 per cent of all the capital deployed during this period, MAGNiTT noted in in its recent MENA Investment Venture Report.

Saudi Arabia has emerged as a rising star within the region’s growing startup landscape and this year reached its highest half-yearly funding amount ever.

Although there was a 7 per cent drop in deals year-on-year, Saudi startups received $168m in venture funding in H1 2021 – 65 per cent more than it did in H1 2020. The amount it attracted in H1 2021 alone was equivalent to 94 per cent of the entire capital deployed in Saudi Arabia in FY 2020.

Throughout the MENA, although the UAE (26 per cent) and Egypt (24 per cent) were ahead of Saudi Arabia (21 per cent) in terms of the number of overall deals reached in H1 2021, Saudi was significantly ahead of its neighbours including Qatar (4 per cent) and Oman (2 per cent). One of every five funding deals closed in the first half of this year, was in Saudi.

Although Egypt ranked ahead of Saudi in the number of deals closed, it was the latter who came out in front of the two when came to the amount of funding received. Saudi attracted 14 per cent of the overall funding in the region, while Egypt secured 13 per cent.

Some of the mega deals struck earlier this year include e-commerce startup Sary who received $31m, technology startup Foodics which secured $20m and Red Sea Farms which obtained $10m in its pre-Series A round backed by state-run giant Saudi Aramco.

State-level initiatives such as Fintech Saudi have launched programmes such as “Fintech Internship 21” with over 40 participants this year, while the Public Investment Fund (PIF)-backed Jada launched a training programme this year for managers of private equity and venture capital funds.

Another significant decision that is expected to benefit the country’s startup sector, is the decision of Saudi’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to collaborate with international event organiser Informa Tech to hold global tech event LEAP between February 1-3, 2022 at the Riyadh Front Exhibition Centre.

The big tech event will showcase a range of technologies across AI, cryptocurrency, blockchain, 3D printing, robotics, IoT, healthcare and biotech, among others, and is expected to position itself as one of the foremost tech events in Saudi Arabia.

Making a strong case for diversity in tech events, the LEAP technology conference will feature a startup pitch stage where hundreds of startups and entrepreneurs can present their big business ideas to a panel of seasoned investors and tech leaders who will determine whether those ideas deserve significant cash injections.

Startups and disruptive emerging technology companies across sectors including fintech, health, edutech, agritech, energy, tourism, the creative economy and digital entertainment will participate in the event.

These innovators and entrepreneurs will stand to not only gain invaluable networking and learning opportunities, but also win several prizes, including invitations to join some of Saudi’s well-funded government incubators and corporate accelerators, including a $55bn PIF investment fund for cutting-edge technology and R&D.

The upcoming LEAP event could well set up Saudi Arabia, and the MENA region as a whole, to set a new benchmark for overall investment in 2022.

For more details on how startups can participate in the upcoming LEAP event, visit onegiantleap.com

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