Eight investment funds and programs allocated 3.7 billion riyals ($1 billion) to support Saudi Arabia’s IT sector.
On the sidelines of the LEAP 2023 conference in Riyadh, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology unveiled on Tuesday investment funds to support the growth of startups and medium-sized companies, accelerate the electronic games industry, boost competition in the fields of research, development and innovation, and stimulate the ecosystem.
The conference saw the launching of STV’s first Shariah-compliant alternative financing fund, to enable the growth of technology companies, at a value of $150 million.
Similarly, IMPACT46 launched a $133 million fund, targeting tech startups in the Kingdom and the MENA region, while Merak Capital announced a $53 million Direct Lending Fund to support Saudi tech companies.
Shorooq Co. unveiled its second fund to invest in emerging companies in the Kingdom, in addition to launching another fund to accelerate electronic games worth $115 million.
Moreover, the Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB) announced the allocation of $40 million to launch an innovation incubator in the financial technology field and other fields to contribute to the growth of the financial sector.
Planetary Capital inaugurated the first Saudi-Canadian fund to invest in both local and global emerging space technology companies, at a value of $30 million, while Rakeezah holding launched a $25 million venture capital fund backed by a global accelerator in Riyadh.
In remarks at the opening of the second day of the LEAP 2023 conference, Eng. Haitham Al-Ohali, Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technology, said: “We heard some international investors mention that the Crown Prince revealed an increase in financing growth in the Kingdom by 72 percent.”
He pointed to the alliances between Riyadh and Beijing in technology through startups and giant companies, with the aim to promote digital economic growth in the two countries, and to pump new global investments within the Kingdom.
Riyadh and Beijing
Major government institutions, companies, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions from Saudi Arabia and China launched the Saudi-China Entrepreneur Association (SCEA), on the sidelines of LEAP 2023.
The non-profit organization is supported by the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones. It will be operated by eWTP Arabia Capital.
It includes more than 100 founding members from institutions and companies, most notably the Saudi Telecom Company, Alibaba, Cloud, China Mobile and Tencent.
“In line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, SCEA will enable cross-border investments and valuable collaborations,” said Jerry Li, founder and managing partner of eWTPA.
For his part, Faisal Al-Khamisi, chairman of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones, noted that China was a strategic partner for Saudi Arabia in terms of technology and innovation, stressing that the association would enhance mutual collaboration and provide the broader Saudi-China business community with a forum to share valuable experiences.
The second day of the LEAP 2023 in Riyadh also saw the announcement of several support and financing programs.
Riyad Bank revealed financing for establishments operating in the communications and information technology sector at a value of one billion dollars.
Meanwhile, the Saudi National Program for the Development of the Communications and Information Technology Sector announced the launch of 6 new products that support and enable the system of digital entrepreneurship and technology companies in the Kingdom, in addition to attracting international technology companies, at a value of 1.1 billion riyals ($293 million).
Banque Saudi Fransi launched a financing portfolio worth one billion dollars to finance companies in the communications and IT sector.