Innovation and enterpreneurship Overview
The entrepreneurship and innovation sector is at the heart of Vision 2030, and starting a business in Saudi Arabia has never been easier. In 2017, Saudi Arabia introduced the Entrepreneurship License that allows foreign start-ups to setup their business in Saudi with 100% ownership. The Saudi entrepreneurship ecosystem is rapidly growing, and is positioning itself as a major player in the region. From developing accelerators programs, establishing co-working spaces, introducing new funding programs to transforming regulatory and financing frameworks to support startups and entrepreneurs
Despite the outstanding achievements to date, the Kingdom’s journey has just started and the government is determined to support all international & local ecosystem players to increase the participation in the entrepreneurship landscape.
Explore Saudi Arabia's
Innovation and Enterpreneurship Sector
SME contribution to GDP in 2020 from 20% in 2016
growth in the Saudi venture capital ecosystem Y-o-Y from 2016 to 2021
targeted SME contribution to GDP by 2030
A rapidly growing ecosystem
- Saudi-based startups received $179 million worth of investments in 2020, a record amount of total funding. The jump from $8 million in 2016 shows the acceleration rate and the commitment of the Kingdom to becoming the startup hub for the region.
- Saudi Arabia has a robust infrastructure for entrepreneurs with a number of venture capital funds, accelerator programs, co-working spaces, incubators, venture studios, and full commitment from the government.
- One out of five startups headquartered in Saudi Arabia closed one in every five transactions registered across the MENA region in H1 2021.
Enabling the future of entrepreneurship
- The Kingdom is committed to having the most advanced regulatory frameworks and infrastructure for entrepreneurship in the region with the introduction of new special economic zones.
- The establishment of NEOM as an accelerator for human progress and a city of entrepreneurs, innovators, and dreamers.
- King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) Innovation Venturessupports founders and funds early-stage deep tech startups that are working to find solutions to our most pressing scientific and technological challenges.
- Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm,Wa’ed, was established in 2011 to ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia, with a focus on industry. The center assists entrepreneurs in establishing or expanding their ventures by providing a variety of financial offerings, along with the guidance and tools that develop and nurture entrepreneurs and their businesses.
Government support and commitment to entrepreneurship
- Vision 2030 recognizes that SMEs are among the most important agents of economic growth as they create jobs, support innovation and boost exports. One of the main goals of Vision 2030 is therefore to increase SME contribution to GDP from 20% in 2016 to 35% in 2030.
- In 2020, Saudi Arabia committed to encourage greater international competitiveness of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, foster economic diversification, and strengthen international investment during it’s G20 Saudi presidency.
- The Small and Medium Enterprise Authority (Monsha’at) was created specifically to support, develop, and sponsor the SME sector in accordance with best global practices.
- The Public Investment Fund (PIF), one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, created Jada, a Fund of Funds, with an approximate capital $1 billion to promote the development of a thriving private equity and venture capital ecosystem.
Establishing a business in Saudi Arabia has never been easier
- With the Ministry of Investment (MISA) Entrepreneurship License, the MISA VENTURE by INVEST SAUDI initiative, and the step-by-step support of MISA’s entrepreneurship team, entry to the Saudi market is easy, simple, and straightforward.
- Entrepreneurship licensing fees are almost fully waived to support entrepreneurs entering the Saudi market.
- The government launched Tayseer, an initiative aimed at improving the Saudi business environment, communicate with the private sector to overcome challenges, and position Saudi Arabia among the most competitive economies worldwide.
- With 71% digital maturity of eGovernment services (up from 56% in 2016), investors are able to complete most governmental services online.
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