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NEOM’s OXAGON, home to advanced and clean industries with industrial innovation at its core, today launched the first edition of its Hackathon, in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education, powered by Blossom Accelerator.

The three-day sprint is set to take place from October 6-8 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and is designed to foster a collaborative and inclusive innovation eco-system across the Kingdom’s burgeoning startup community. The Hackathon will revolve around four industries mirroring several NEOM industrial ambitions: Technology in the service of people; Water innovation to develop sustainable solutions that address water scarcity challenges; and Green Hydrogen and E-Fuels, both of which bolster KSA’s commitment to explore clean energy alternatives.

The OXAGON Accelerator will launch later this year - an intensive 12-week program designed to equip early-stage founders with the knowledge, expertise, resources and network to build a successful company that is investment-ready for VCs and angel investors.

OXAGON is building an infrastructure designed to develop a collaborative innovation ecosystem where ideas are accelerated from lab to market. The coastal city will be home to a dedicated Research and Innovation District, housing a campus equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, from open working spaces to the latest in technologies, all powered by clean energy – ultimately providing a live-lab for industrial innovation.

In addition to applicants from Saudi universities, homegrown innovators from across the country are also invited to participate in the Hackathon and Accelerator with a chance to turn their innovative solutions into viable startup businesses.

Vishal Wanchoo, CEO of OXAGON, said: “This unique partnership shows that OXAGON sees education as a cornerstone of innovation communities, and we are excited about working with the Ministry of Education to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Saudi universities.”

For his part, Prof. Nasser Al-Aqeeli, Deputy Minister for Research and Innovation - Ministry of Education, said: “The launch of both initiatives, the hackathon and accelerator, will contribute to building a generation of future pioneers and leaders, developing national talent and contributing to the Kingdom’s economic diversification plans, in accordance with Saudi Vision 2030. Our partnership with OXAGON provides participants from Saudi public and private universities the opportunity to implement their innovative ideas, developing sustainable solutions that support the future of clean industries domestically and globally, with the added benefit from the expertise that OXAGON offers.”

Also commenting on the initiative, Emon Shakoor, CEO Blossom, said: “What is truly unique about both the hackathon and the accelerator program is that we are really focusing on the power of the people who are innovating within Saudi Arabia. This is an inclusive innovation program, and we invite creators from different genders, backgrounds, skillsets and who’ve faced different adversities to participate. We believe the pillar to innovation and economic growth is inclusion.”

All participants of the Hackathon will be encouraged to draw on four key capabilities that are important for OXAGON, including Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence; Advanced Sensing and Internet of Things (IoT); Material Science, Nano Technology and Robotics; and Automated Guided Vehicles and Drones. The Hackathon will be filled with intense hours of work and expert mentors guiding the entrepreneurs every step of the way.

Students will find themselves working alongside established founders, startups, and entrepreneurs, who will have the opportunity to source talent and ideas. They will also have the chance to meet potential cofounders and team members to jointly grow ideas, technologies, and businesses. OXAGON will provide three finalist teams from the hackathon the opportunity to pursue its three-month accelerator program and to showcase their concepts at an upcoming event later this year. The program will provide access to world-class leaders, mentors, and potential investors in the MENA region. Eligible and seasoned startups can also apply directly to the accelerator program.

One of the Kingdom’s most important Vision 2030 projects, NEOM is committed to driving sustainable economic diversification and talent development. The NEOM region is set to inspire and challenge human potential where world-class technology is fueled with data and intelligence to interact seamlessly with its population and forming cognitive communities. OXAGON was launched in November 2021, a place where ideas can profoundly change the world. It brings together a radical new model for future manufacturing centers, based on NEOM’s philosophy of redefining the way humanity lives and works in the future.


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