Neom, the futuristic mega-city being built in Saudi Arabia, has launched a new investment arm that aims to boost the advancement of the $500 billion development and create jobs.
The Neom Investment Fund will focus on developing 14 priority sectors by investing globally through mergers and acquisitions and venture capital in technology start-ups, with a “clear focus on pioneering growth companies and next-generation industries”, Neom said on Tuesday.
The sectors include manufacturing, water, technology and digital, entertainment and culture, education, research and innovation, design and construction, food, energy, sport, tourism, mobility, health, well-being and biotech, financial services and media, according to Neom's website.
The fund will focus on developing investment for the private sector and will directly invest to develop solutions that would be piloted and grown at Neom, to be eventually exported to other parts of the world.
It will also develop joint ventures and partnerships with large multinational companies, institutional investors and innovators within Neom, which would help position the city as a sustainable economic development, it said.
The fund will be assuming the role of portfolio manager for Neom's sector assets and companies, which would “safeguard returns for the shareholder and investors through portfolio synergies and will underpin Neom's long-term financial sustainability”.
The fund also announced new investments in companies including Regent, Pony.ai, Boom Technology, BlueNalu and Animoca Brands.
The investments in these companies align with Neom's technology-backed aims as they are involved in the electric seaglider, autonomous mobility, aerospace, aquaculture and game software sectors.
“These investments, which add to those the NIF has led to date, illustrate its role working alongside Neom sectors to support their strategies for growth, enabling new technologies, establishing businesses and creating a thriving economy in Neom,” it said.
Neom did not provide figures for its capital and the target number of jobs it aims to create. More details on its investments in the aforementioned companies will be shared “in the following days”, the statement said.
“The vision of Neom is to address global challenges that redefine liveability, conservation and business. As Neom's strategic investment subsidiary, the NIF will play a critical role in converting Neom's vision to reality,” said Nadhmi Al Nasr, chief executive of Neom.
“The NIF will enable Neom to sustain its contribution to realising the ambitions of the kingdom over the long term, cementing its position as a driver of economic diversification and job creation.”
Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's biggest economy, is implementing its Vision 2030 strategy, its major economic diversification programme in which technology is key.
Significant projects in the kingdom have made moves to harness next-generation and emerging technologies, which is crucial in Riyadh's programme to prepare the kingdom for the economy of the future.
The NIF's strategy is designed to align Neom's development objectives with those of innovators and institutional investors, “de-risking opportunities for them to participate in creating core global growth businesses and a thriving economy” in the mega-city, NIF's chief executive Majid Mufti said.
“To date, the NIF has invested in several technology companies within the 14 priority sectors of Neom that will accelerate technologies critical to the Neom project and have a major impact on the future of living and sustainability,” he said.
“Replicated over time, this approach will position Neom as a model for sustainable economic development.”
Once completed, Neom will include ports, enterprise zones, research centres, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations that are hyper-connected and cognitive.