Saudi Arabia's Misk and 500 Startups announce completion of accelerator programme

Founders of the 16 companies will soon make their pitches online at a virtual demo day

With this batch, 500 Startups will have a total of 150 investments in the MENA region. Courtesy 500 Startups 
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Saudi Arabia’s Misk Foundation and Silicon Valley venture capital company 500 Startups have announced that 16 companies have completed the most recent round of a joint accelerator programme, despite the challenges posed by coronavirus outbreak.

The successful firms were part of Misk500’s third batch of companies to complete the 14-week programme. They will now take part in a virtual demo day on May 11 that will be streamed on YouTube, giving interested parties from around the region the chance to engage with the founders of the companies.

The Misk500 Accelerator programme is structured to help pre-seed and seed-stage start-ups to develop into successful companies and help them grow.

It is a collaboration between the Misk Foundation, a charitable organisation aimed at supporting Saudi Arabia's youth launched in 2011 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and 500 Startups.

“Despite the obstacles of the Covid-19 crisis, the accelerator is still producing results,” Misk Innovation said in a statement.

“I would like to congratulate our founders, their teams and our mentors for the smooth and seamless transition of the accelerator programme to fully remote teaching,” said Sharif El Badawi, managing partner at 500 Startups Middle East and North Africa.

“Despite the challenging times, the founders have gained valuable insights from the programme,” he added.

The third cohort included business owners from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Jordan, who are working in various fields including fitness, e-commerce and healthtech.

Following the investments made in this cohort, 500 Startups' total investments made in the Mena region will have increased to 150.

Start-ups in Mena secured $277 million (Dh1 billion) in funding during the first quarter of the year, up 2 per cent on the same period last year, according to data platform Magnitt.

The increase in funding in the quarter is “largely attributed to a strong start to 2020” before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Magnitt’s Q1 2020 Mena Venture Investment Report said.

While funding increased marginally, the number of deals in the first three months of this year fell 22 per cent to 108. Egypt accounted for 37 per cent of all deals in the Mena region while the UAE accounted for 25 per cent and Saudi Arabia 12 per cent.