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KAUST Challenge evokes interest from participants, industry stakeholders
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 01 - 09 - 2021

In a bid to boost the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) along with Asbar World Forum Wednesday confirmed that select innovative and shortlisted participants of its second KAUST Challenge, titled 'Shaping the Future of Media', will benefit from deep-expertise, mentorship and tailored support from leading global and local stakeholders of the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
In line with the University's commitment to bolstering its research and development endeavors, the KAUST Challenge 'Shaping the Future of Media' has teamed up with a consortium of prestigious strategic partners and sonsors.
The Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA), Small & Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monsha'at), General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), Saudi Press Agency, Saudi eSports, Saudi Broadcasting Authority, and Facebook — are all collaborating on the 2nd edition of the KAUST Challenge and will provide their esteemed support and guidance as strategic partners.
Joining this consortium are the incredible and well-respected organizations who will collaborate on the Challenge as the primary Sponsors – stc as the Platinum Sponsor, Riyad Bank as the Banking Sponsor, Google as the Knowledge Sponsor, and Microsoft has joined the Challenge as the Technology Sponsor.
Representatives from KAUST and Asbar World Forum, as well as from the Challenge's partners and sponsors will bring a deep understanding of the KSA community and its needs, guidance, and support in identifying the most promising ideas and solutions and aid in their realization in this edition of the KAUST Challenge.
These collaborations strengthen shared goals of advancing the national priorities of developing a vibrant ecosystem for research, innovation, investment, and entrepreneurship in the Kingdom.
Moreover, stc's collaboration aims to reinforce joint focus on pioneering innovation and digital transformation to enhance quality of life and build a prosperous and sustainable future for all in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world. While the collaboration with Riyad Bank seeks to advance sustainable prosperity of the country by improving living standards, enhancing the community spirit, and promoting entrepreneurship.
Facebook will offer the most innovative participants guidance and mentorship as well as an opportunity to join the Facebook Technical Programs, and access to key resources to refine and realize their ideas and solutions. Selected participants will also be provided with the opportunity to receive tailored technical, product and leadership training by the organizing team of 'Google for Startups Accelerators: Middle East and North Africa', a digital accelerator program for technology startups based in the region.
Meanwhile, selected participants will also receive access to the Microsoft for Startups program and an opportunity to enlist in the GrowthX Accelerator, Microsoft's global platform designed to bridge the gap between companies with technological needs and startups with solutions, and empowers B2B startups with the technology, mentoring and market access they need to thrive in the new global digital economy and scale their companies.
Speaking on the new partnerships, Dr. Najah Ashry, senior associate to the president & VP Strategic National Advancement at KAUST, said: "KAUST is proud to champion and nurture a culture of innovation, and an aptitude for research and development through all its programs and initiatives.
"Our high-value strategic partnerships and sponsorships for the KAUST Challenge 'Shaping the Future of Media' aim to expand the global footprint of the Challenge and testify to the high caliber of the submissions as well as the outstanding success and transformative impact of its first edition.
"Through the current edition, we are keen to continue strengthening industry partnerships with stakeholders as well as developing new and robust synergies that will support the high number of participants and enable us to increase the scope of our Challenge series."
Dr. Fahad Al-Harthy, chairman of Asbar World Forum, also pointed to the importance of the support and response that this event receives from partners and sponsors due to its distinction and its specialization in an important and vital sector such as the media, which faces many current challenges, which needs many innovative solutions and ideas to serve the future of media in the Kingdom and the world.
Aimed at identifying innovative solutions to the most pressing pain points surrounding the Saudi media ecosystem, this edition of the KAUST Challenge seeks to jumpstart the country's nascent culture and entertainment industry, as well as catalyze research, innovation, economic development, and social prosperity in Saudi Arabia. Via crowdsourcing initiatives, the Challenge encourages local and international talent to contribute ideas to advance the country's national priorities and support Saudi Vision 2030.
Individuals as well as organizations of any size or type from around the world that are driven to shape the future of media in Saudi Arabia are encouraged to apply. Proposals are accepted across 13 key themes — content filtering, e-games, data privacy & security, ecosystem support, content protection, inclusiveness & accessibility, content creation, content distribution, insights & analytics, media localization, regulatory barriers, content noise, and setting idealistic standards.
KAUST representatives, along with the consortium of partners and sponsors, will pick the Grand Winner before Sept. 15, following careful consideration of each proposal. The winner will receive a cash prize of SR300,000 at a special award ceremony, scheduled for late September 2021.
For more information on the KAUST Challenge and details on how to submit the proposal ideas, please visit www.challenge.kaust.edu.sa or email [email protected] — SG


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