201612 NBK

Startup Kuwait

Directed by the Global Center, Startup Kuwait is a private supported initiative which will include Kuwait University, Box Hill College Kuwait, American University of Kuwait, Australian College of Kuwait and Gulf University of Science & Technology. We sat with Dr. Redha Behbehani, the director of the Global Center, to know more about Startup Kuwait

What is the Global Center?

The Global Center at the Kuwait University’s College of Business Administration was founded in 2007 to initiate and coordinate with private sector partners to create ways of offering programs for leadership development and, at the same time, to promote relationships with leading global business schools that would support the College of Business Administration’s teaching, research, case studies and its mission and vision. Since its inception, the Global Center has delivered over 140 executive educational seminars, reaching out to over 3,500 executives.

What is the Startup Kuwait program?

Startup Kuwait is one of many initiatives launched by the Global Center. Startup Kuwait’s aim is to enhance Kuwait’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, as a response to macro and micro economic challenges faced in Kuwait. These include the need for a greater role in the economy for the private sector, and the governmental allocation of KD 2 billion to fund and support startup businesses.

Startup Kuwait was launched in November 2015. It was introduced to foster student leadership and entrepreneurship in partnership with colleges, universities, startup accelerators and civic groups in Kuwait and beyond.  It is the first program of its kind in Kuwait – bringing world experts, entrepreneurs, investors and accelerators together to support Kuwait-born startups and entrepreneurs, and aims towards strengthening the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The Startup Kuwait objective is to create feeder programs across Kuwait that provide a robust and growing pipeline of startups year-after-year to investors and multiple accelerators, and to bring an entrepreneurial mindset to a broad-swathe of Kuwaiti society – across economic sectors, age groups and social background.

Through student projects (and entrepreneur’s projects), training programs, and collaborating with other startups programs. Startup Kuwait hopes to inspire entrepreneurship and innovation across institutions and groups in Kuwait.  In addition, Startup Kuwait plans to invite investors, experts and outside accelerators to supplement its programs in the region.

Startup Kuwait focuses on supporting four areas in support of building ecosystem for entrepreneurs.

  • Student and young professionals on idea generation > startup > value creation
  • The role of Academia in preparing the upcoming entrepreneurs
  • Faculty research, researchers to commercialization
  • Industry research to academic and to commercialization

Which universities will participate in this?

Startup Kuwait’s first program is the “National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge” (Startup Kuwait Competition), which has brought together 5 universities and colleges in Kuwait to participate in a business ideas competition during Spring 2016.

The Startup Kuwait Competition is an exciting new program that will provide training and support for innovative and entrepreneurial projects to be undertaken by the students of Box Hill College Kuwait, Australian College of Kuwait, Gulf University for Science & Technology, American University of Kuwait, and Kuwait University.  Students will spend the spring semester learning about entrepreneurship (through non-credit curriculum) from faculty, Kuwaiti and regional entrepreneurs and experts from around the world.  They will also spend time in the field testing and selling their new ideas, products and services with social impact.

Others in the immediate pipeline include Fall 2016 competition that is intended to expand the idea competition programs for students as well as for young professionals.

What is the schedule?

Startup Kuwait gives broad activities every month from December 2015 to June 2016.  Beside the mentioned activities – we have speakers from Kuwait, the region and the international entrepreneurial community who have gone through the journey of becoming entrepreneurs, accelerators, and have contributed to the building of their own ecosystem. Every month we have between 2 and 4 speakers – February, we have 6 speakers –with great experience in execution and delivery from Kuwait, Egypt, Boston (US), Berkeley (US), and Germany.

What activities should we expect?

Creating the entrepreneurial educational platform and to direct entrepreneurs

Hosting workshops and talks by local and international speakers from the business and academic fields

Launching a semi-annual competition: “The National Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge”

Bridging and connecting to players in other entrepreneurial ecosystem

Dr. Redha Behbehani

A word from program directors leading the Startup Kuwait Competition initiative within their universities/colleges:

Dr. Abdul Rahman M. Al-Taweel, Assistant Professor of Finance and Director of the Office of Student Training and Alumni, College of Business Administration, KU:

“Our job at the Office of Student Training and Alumni (OSTA) is not limited to providing our students with the skills needed in today’s workplace but also introducing them to new ideas, helping them open their mind to new ventures and to the life of an entrepreneur. OSTA will be supporting Startup Kuwait by providing our students and alumni with uniquely customized training programs that span the life of an entrepreneurial project. We are proud to be part of Startup Kuwait, the first competition of its kind in Kuwait that pits different schools against one another to “find that next Mark Zuckerberg”.

Mr. Nishith Acharya Former Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for President Obama’s Administration” and Former Director of MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, Citizence

“Startup Kuwait is an effort by many of the leading institutions, entrepreneurs and thinkers of Kuwait to build Kuwait’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It brings together some of the best accelerators, university commercialization centers and entrepreneurs in the world to help Kuwait-based startups to launch.  I am excited to work with Kuwaiti’s to make this area a global hub for innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership”.

Dr. Arezou Harraf, The Head of the department of business studies,Box Hill College Kuwait

Box Hill College Kuwait is proud to take part in Startup Kuwait as we believe that among the best approaches to spur learning and innovation is to provide a platform for students to undertake projects and initiatives that involve complex tasks and that will inspire students to bring forth ingenuity.  The Startup Kuwait competition is a perfect example of such a platform. Students participating in theStartup Kuwait competition are set to benefit greatly from their participation regardless of their decision to continue working on their ventures post competition or not, as the knowledge and experience gained throughout the project will help them in their future career paths and endeavors.

Dr. Sam Toglaw, Manager –Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, School of Business, Australian College of Kuwait

ACK Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center will serve as an active force in helping entrepreneurial students tap into the innovation ecosystem. It will create a climate of innovation and qualify entrepreneurs through education and training to commercialize their business concepts in a successful way.