February 15, 2023 – Riyadh – AstroLabs, the leading technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem builder in MENA, celebrated its 10th anniversary with the ecosystem at its spaces in Riyadh, Al Malqa. The regional celebration brought together Saudi’s innovation pioneers, including H.E. Dr. Nabeel Koshak, CEO and board member of SVC, along with key ecosystem partners, including the Ministry of Investment in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, and the Royal Commission for AlUla.
The event, which welcomed 200+ of Saudi’s most anticipated entrepreneurs, hosted curated talks and panels showcasing the journey of Saudi to becoming the fastest-growing global hub for technology, business, and innovation. The night kicked off with an exclusive presentation by AstroLabs CEO Roland Daher on a decade of ecosystem building in Saudi Arabia, demonstrating the immense potential of connecting stakeholders in building competitive local markets and accelerating the digital transformation of the kingdom.
“AstroLabs has come a long way since launching the ‘Scaling Online for Startups’ program ten years ago. From accelerating 100 entrepreneurs across MENA in 2013, becoming the first international incubator in Saudi Arabia in 2018, and piloting the Forward KSA Accelerator program, to helping build an agile economy in AlUla by accelerating the growth of its SMEs today.” Daher stated, “enabling the digital and entrepreneurial excellence of the Saudi ecosystem ahead of a historic transformation, such as the Saudi Vision 2030, has been an exciting decade in the making.”
The event was headlined by an exclusive fireside chat between the CEO and Board Member of SVC H.E. Dr. Nabeel Koshak and the Founding Partner of AstroLabs, Muhammed Mekki. The conversation was filled with insights into the intricacies of building ecosystems in Saudi Arabia, reflecting on the early days of Wadi Makkah and AstroLabs. Mekki said, “H.E Dr. Nabeel has been a vital supporter of AstroLabs since its launch and is a focal point to the growth of Saudi innovation to what it is today. It is ecosystem builders like H.E Dr. Nabeel that have kept our mission in Saudi on the right track over the past decade, and we are proud to be marking this milestone together.”
The Saudi Vision 2030 presents an exceptional opportunity for the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Saudi Arabia to become a leading player in the digital economy worldwide. AstroLabs has been working with entrepreneurs and key stakeholders, including government entities, multinationals, and SMEs, to build the digital readiness for this transformation over the past decade.
Focused on building local competencies through digital upskilling, entrepreneurship, acceleration programs, and inviting global participation via its “Saudi Expansion” division, AstroLabs has played a vital role in accelerating the growth of industries and talent capabilities in the kingdom. To date, AstroLabs has expanded more than 300 high-growth companies to Saudi Arabia and built an extensive talent network.
The company has also launched various programs aimed at SME ecosystem building, such as the Vibes AlUla SME Enablement Program in partnership with the Royal Commission for AlUla and the PepsiCo Scale-up accelerator program in partnership with Pepsi Co and CODE. These programs equip small businesses with the skills and know-how needed to accelerate their growth, kickstart their digital transformation, and allow them to become vital economic contributors over the upcoming years.
The celebration also featured a panel consisting of AstroLabs community members who have expanded with the company to Saudi Arabia and participated in its acceleration programs. The panel invited Iyad Al-Saady, Country Director of Augustus Media, Tarek Bayaa, Co-Founder of Bayzat, Abdullah Bin Shamlan, Co-Founder of Speero, and Rahul Arya, Managing Partner at Artefact, to share their experiences in building disruptive solutions and navigating the future of the Saudi digital offering. The event was attended by guests of honor and AstroLabs’ strategic partners, including the Ministry of Investment in Saudi Arabia (MISA), the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), and the Royal Commission for Alula (RCU).
The celebration of AstroLabs’ 10th anniversary marked a significant milestone in the journey toward building thriving ecosystems in Saudi Arabia. The gathering of experts, stakeholders, and community members shed light on the critical role of enablers like AstroLabs in developing the global competitive edge of the local market. AstroLabs is playing a vital role in driving economic diversification and growth in line with Saudi Vision 2030, and the success stories shared at the event serve as a testament to the impact of AstroLabs’ efforts in shaping the future of the Saudi tech landscape.