NEOM’s industrial city OXAGON launches first edition of hackathon

An illustration of Neom, which will be built in Saudi Arabia. (Neom.com)

NEOM (RAHNUMA): NEOM’s industrial city OXAGON on Wednesday launched the first edition of its hackathon in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Education.

The initiative aims to turn entrepreneurs’ innovative solutions into viable startup businesses while under the supervision of specialized experts in various fields.

It will revolve around four industries reflecting the NEOM industrial goals of technology in service of people, water innovation developing sustainable solutions for water scarcity challenges, and green hydrogen and e-fuels, both of which bolster the Kingdom’s commitment to explore clean energy alternatives.

Powered by Blossom Accelerator, Saudi Arabia’s first tech-inclusion and female-focused accelerator, the hackathon will take place between Oct. 6 and 8 in Riyadh.

The OXAGON accelerator, a 12-week program providing early-stage founders with expertise, resources, and networks needed to build successful investment-ready companies, will also launch later this year.

OXAGON is building infrastructure to foster a collaborative innovation ecosystem in which ideas are accelerated from the lab to the market.

The coastal city will be home to a dedicated research and innovation district. Its campus will feature cutting-edge facilities ranging from open working spaces to the latest technology, all powered by clean energy.

In addition to applicants from Saudi universities, the hackathon and accelerator will be open to homegrown innovators from throughout the country.

Vishal Wanchoo, chief executive officer 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.”

Saudi Deputy Minister for Research and Innovation Prof. Nasser Al-Aqeeli, 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,” he added.

Blossom Accelerator CEO Emon Shakoor, 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 have faced different adversities, to participate. We believe the pillar to innovation and economic growth is inclusion.”

All hackathon participants will be encouraged to draw on OXAGON-critical capabilities such as big data analytics and artificial intelligence. The hackathon will include long days of work and expert mentors who will guide the entrepreneurs every step of the way.

Students will work alongside established founders, startups, and entrepreneurs who will be able to source talent and ideas. They will also have the opportunity to meet potential cofounders and team members with whom they can collaborate to grow ideas, technologies, and businesses.

OXAGON will offer three hackathon finalists the opportunity to participate in its three-month accelerator program and to present their concepts at an upcoming event later this year. This will give participants access to world-class leaders, mentors, and potential Middle East and North Africa region investors.

NEOM, one of the Kingdom’s most important Vision 2030 projects, is dedicated to promoting long-term economic diversification and talent development.

The NEOM region is designed to inspire and challenge human potential by combining world-class technology with data and intelligence to interact seamlessly with its population and form cognitive communities.

OXAGON, a place where ideas can profoundly change the world, was launched in November 2021. It combines a radical new model for future manufacturing centers based on NEOM’s philosophy of redefining how humanity lives and works in the future.

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