Roland Berger to host winners of Saudi Arabian start-up competition

29 March 2018

Global consulting firm Roland Berger and a panel of esteemed judges have selected the winning entries of a start-up competition held in Saudi Arabia, with the victors set to tour the firm’s home-base of Germany next month.

Organised by the German-Saudi Arabian Liaison Office for Economic Affairs with support from global German consulting firm Roland Berger, the German-Saudi Start-up Competition is an initiative to foster local entrepreneurship and the budding start-up ecosystem of Saudi Arabia. Open to Saudi start-ups founded since 2015 and operating in the fields of tech innovation and social entrepreneurship, the competition has now uncovered its inaugural winners; Labayh and Lucidya.

Labayh, founded by Basim Albeldi and based in Medina, is a mobile app designed to facilitate consultation services for personal and psychological concerns in a safe and discreet space, matching potential clients with health practitioners through an anonymous online platform with the assurance of a third-party screening process. The second selected start-up, Lucidya, established in Jeddah by Abdullah Asiri, sits squarely in the tech innovation category, designed to help businesses predict consumer sentiment through the use of big data and AI to monitor and analyse digital media content.

The two winners were chosen after an imaginably nerve-racking presentation, with the ten preliminary competition finalists being given two minutes to sell their wares in front of the local German business community and a panel of judges including the German Ambassador Dieter Haller, Kushal Shah, Managing Partner for the Middle East at Roland Berger, a representative of the venture capital enterprise Dubai Angel Investors, and, special guest, the Saudi royal princess Johara bint Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.Roland Berger to host winners of  Saudi Arabian start-up competition“The number of startups is growing at a faster rate than ever before in the region and entrepreneurship is becoming center stage in KSA in particular, in line with its Vision 2030. The role of Monsha’at in particular, the Small and Medium Enterprise Authority, has been key in fostering the growth of this ecosystem,” Shah said. “At Roland Berger, entrepreneurship is part of our DNA and we are delighted to be supporting the first German Saudi Startup Competition in Riyadh, given our strong connection with both geographies.”

As part of the ongoing support offered by the firm, the competition winners will soon embark on a four-day start-up tour of Germany, including a visit to Roland Berger’s Spielfeld Digital Hub in the district of Kreuzberg, the epicenter of Berlin's energetic start-up scene. The hub was established to act as an intersection of traditional industry and the innovative digital tech sphere, granting the Saudi competition winners the opportunity to meet with various industry experts and investors, as well as pitch before leading members of the local business community at the MENA Business Forum conference to be held in Berlin. 

“We look forward to hosting the winners at Spielfeld Digital Hub in Berlin, our German corporate innovation hub, next month. We are indeed proud to help Saudi entrepreneurs kick-start their careers through our vast network and expertise. These entrepreneurs are eyeing global opportunities, allowing them to deep dive into Berlin’s vibrant startup ecosystem will be highly beneficial for their future,” Shah said.

Oliver Oehms, a delegate for German Industry & Commerce for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen added; “We offer young Saudi entrepreneurs a platform to connect to industry leaders, experienced investors, and potential new customers from Germany, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf region. Small and medium-sized companies and innovative business ideas are the key drivers of the German economy and a growing sector in Saudi Arabia. We intend to support young Saudi startups with our network and know-how.”

Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in Dubai

18 April 2019

The Middle East branch of international construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has launched a new innovation hub in Dubai

Following the appointment of ex-Ramboll exec Abdulmajid Karanouhas as its Head of Interdisciplinary Design & Innovation earlier this year to spearhead the firm’s R&D drive in the Middle East, the local branch of German-origin construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has now launched a new innovation hub in Dubai – designed as a collaborative environment to serve both external start-ups and its own employees.

“It has always been part of our corporate culture to promote our own ideas and initiatives,” said Drees & Sommer executive board member Steffen Szeidl. “Increasingly, digital transformation and our clients are calling for completely new and disruptive business models. The Innovation Centre is one of our responses to these challenges. All 3,200 staff members can upload their ideas virtually.”

According to Szeidl, from there, promising concepts and solutions addressing identified market gaps in areas such as planning, construction and operations will be developed, funded and localised for any market which sees the potential. He continues: “Adding the Dubai innovation hub emphasises our status as a global innovation company by being one of the few companies doing R&D in this region.”Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in DubaiLocally established in 2003, Drees & Sommer was founded close to 50 years ago in Stuttgart, since growing to include some 40 offices worldwide, with its global headcount of 3,200 professionals generating revenues upwards of $430 million in 2017. The firm’s offerings span the gamut of real estate and infrastructure requirements, delivered according to its ‘blue way’, which takes into account economic, functionality, and ecological aspects together.

This, for Drees & Sommer, is an important point in the regional context.  “There is a huge demand in this market for contextual solutions as most models and systems are imported from abroad with little to no adaptation to the local culture, economy, and environment,” explains Karanouh. “As a consequence of this approach, we are facing major challenges related to user-comfort, efficiency, manageability, durability, and overall sustainability and feasibility of the built environment in the region.”

Accordingly, the firm has tailored each of its innovation hubs rolled out so far across the world to drive specific initiatives. In Aachen, Germany’s ‘Silicon Valley’, for example, there is a focus on customised smart buildings, IoT product testing and cyber-security, while the firm’s Stuttgart hub focuses on start-ups and processes and its Berlin one on smart cities and smart quarters. The Netherlands hub meanwhile focuses on wellbeing and sustainable innovation.

Karanouh: “The innovation hub brings together specialists of various disciplines from across the industry as a single interdisciplinary team that advises clients from early feasibility studies all the way to operation and revitalisation of buildings to maximise comfort, efficiency, sustainability, return of investment and overall value. The platform allows for brainstorming ideas, identifying market gaps and needs, adapting existing solutions or/and developing new solutions tailored to the local market and environment.”