Badir launches Soft Landing Program to attract international startups

October 10, 2017
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum visits Badir Pavilion at GITEX Technology Week 2017
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum visits Badir Pavilion at GITEX Technology Week 2017

DUBAI — Badir Program for Technology Incubators, a Saudi national program under King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), has launched a new Soft Landing Program to attract business startups in the GCC countries and the Middle East regional, as well as the US, UK, and East Europe, Malaysia and Singapore to enter the Saudi market and enable their possible collaboration with local counterparts.

The Soft Landing Program, which was announced during Badir Program participation at GITEX Technology Week 2017, will work closely with local partners in KSA who have experience in assisting overseas companies with market feasibility and market orientation in Saudi Arabia.

Nawaf Al-Sahhaf, CEO of Badir Program for Technology Incubators, commenting on the launch of the program, said “Badir has established the soft-landing program with the aim to provide foreign startups access to Saudi market, logistics and contacts. The soft-landing ensures that any foreign startups understand business culture and practices in Saudi Arabia through training and orientation. The aim of this program is to have foreign startups account for 20% of the overall incubated startups.”

Only a established company in its country of origin, with sales track record and a potential to offer knowledge transfer and employment to Saudi nationals can avail of the program. Besides, it must have the potential to offer technology, product and service transfer.

Initially Badir will conduct a preliminary analysis, including recommendations to the foreign SME, to determine if it fits the local market. If the client wishes to proceed, a market orientation visit will be conducted. The aim is to meet relevant contacts and review the market potential and entry strategy.

The Market Orientation Visit includes Saudi cultural and business orientation, Visa arrangements, accommodation in the Soft Landing Program Executive Residency including networking dinners and transport arrangements, accompanied planned meetings to potential customers, potential partners, suppliers and other relevant contacts business support services, such as access to office, Internet, telecommunications, office facilities and secretarial services. Lastly, a final review meeting is scheduled to discuss decision on next steps and market entry strategy.

Moreover, Al-Sahhaf said “like before, Badir tends, through soft-landing, to gather technologies and innovation talents from around the world and target to create a win-win outcome between the local and foreign participants in its entrepreneurial hubs. Badir has sensed the importance of this program as it will create collaborative opportunities between entrepreneurs local and abroad in different technological disciplines as well as enhancing the business acumen among them.”

Badir CEO added: “Badir already has a pipeline of 10 foreign startups from which one Kuwaiti startup has already been incubated in the field of Fintech. At the moment, we have 9 startups from around the world under evaluation, as the programs selects only one startup from each country to maintain diversity.”

Currently, Badir has innovation and entrepreneurial hubs in three cities in the kingdom — Riyadh, Jeddah and Taif — and plans to expand to Dammam, Buraidah and Abha in its first expansion phase to be followed by three other locations in the foreseeable future. — SG

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