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Saudi Arabia launches $200m fund to invest in tech firms

Saudi robotics Reuters/Ahmed Yosri
Saudi Arabia's first robot 'Sara', who can communicate in the local dialect and answer questions. The kingdom plans to strike strategic cooperation agreements in robotics
  • Fund aimed at both local and international firms
  • Looking for partnerships in aerospace, robotics and microelectronics
  • Kingdom wants to grow fintechs from 147 to 500 fintechs by 2030

Saudi Arabia has launched a $200 million (SAR750 million) fund to invest in local and global high-tech companies as part of plans to diversify and create more high-quality technical jobs.

The funding is part of the strategy that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, state-owned SPA news agency reported.

The initiative aims to transform research into “economically productive innovations” through public and private partnerships.

This will be bolstered by the new National Transformation Institute for Applied Research, which plans to increase innovation by accelerating technology development and restructuring research centres.

The kingdom also wants to boost international partnerships and develop cooperation frameworks with leading global academic institutions and technology pioneers.

This includes striking strategic cooperation agreements in the aerospace, robotics and microelectronics fields with academic and commercial institutes in China’s Shenzhen region.

Some of the world’s largest tech companies are already investing in the country. Microsoft plans to invest $2.1 billion in a data and cloud centre, while Oracle Corporation has committed $1.5 billion to build a new cloud region in Riyadh.

Future fintechs

Fintech is also playing a pivotal role in diversifying employment and the economy in the kingdom.

Since the launch of Fintech Saudi in April 2018 the number of fintechs has increased from 10 to 147 and more than 100,000 people have taken part in related events, training courses and internships.

By 2030 it plans to host more than 500 fintechs and offer 18,000 related jobs, with the sector contributing $3.5 billion to the economy.

This March Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority and Financial Sector Development Program launched the Investment in Fintech VC fund.

Abdullah Alswaha, minister of communication and information technology, said just before the launch that the country had attracted more than $9 billion in investments.

Capital market fintech companies such as Manafa, Wethaq, Dawul and Malaa have all completed fundraising rounds, he added.

The fintech industry raised $239 million in funding in 2022, according to venture data firm Magnitt.