RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday launched a SR750 million ($200 million) fund for early investment in local and international high-tech companies, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The initiative is part of a strategy announced for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. It aims to transform research into economically productive innovations by focusing on the national priorities for research, development, and innovation.

The key areas include health and wellness, sustainable environment and essential needs, energy and industrial leadership, and economies of the future.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “Since the foundation of KAUST, it has distinguished itself with its research, innovations, and faculty, to become one of the leading research universities in the world.

“The new strategy builds on KAUST’s scientific and academic achievements and represents a new era for the university to become a beacon of knowledge and a source of inspiration and innovation in line with Vision 2030 aspirations for the betterment of the Kingdom and the world.”

The report said the strategy seeks to strengthen KAUST’s partnerships with the public and private sectors, which will contribute to achieving the objectives of Vision 2030.

The new strategy focuses on increasing the likelihood of turning research into economically beneficial innovations. This ambition will be achieved through three major initiatives: the launch of the National Transformation Institute for Applied Research to accelerate technology development and commercialization to support the Kingdom’s economic diversification aspirations; the restructuring of research centers to align with national priorities for research, development, and innovation; and the creation of a $200m fund (SR750 million) to deliver unmet investment in local and international firms specializing in high-tech, which will enhance economic diversification and contribute to the creation of high quality technical jobs.

It also aims to provide opportunities for researchers, faculty members, and students to use their research to create a sustainable global impact by strengthening international and local partnerships. Among the most important initiatives resulting from these partnerships is the KAUST Reefscape Restoration Initiative, in partnership with NEOM, which will focus on cultivating and restoring hundreds of thousands of coral reefs on an area of 100 hectares, on Shushah Island in the Red Sea.

The university will continue collaboration with some of the largest companies in the Kingdom and the world, such as Aramco, SABIC, ACWA Power, IBM, Dow, and Boeing.

One of the most prominent initiatives of the strategy is to strengthen international partnerships and develop cooperation frameworks with leading academic institutions and technology pioneers in the world. This includes forging strategic cooperation agreements with leading academic and commercial institutes in the Chinese city of Shenzhen to collaborate on applied research across cutting-edge fields like aerospace, robotics, and microelectronics.

Through these initiatives and partnerships, KAUST will contribute to developing the higher education ecosystem, nurturing the future scientific research pioneers in the Kingdom, promoting research and global innovation, and stimulating the growth of advanced technology startups. This will enhance the competitiveness of the Kingdom’s economy and its global position as a leader in innovation.