LEAP 2024 to run the Rocket Fuel Pitch Competition for startups

LEAP 2024 to run the Rocket Fuel Pitch Competition for startups

Ambitious global startups will pitch head-to-head to win their share of a prize pool at the Rocket Fuel competition at LEAP 2024, which will run at the Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Centre, Malham, Saudi Arabia, from March 4-7.

Awards in the Rocket Fuel competition, which is powered by Saudi Arabia’s National Technology Development Programme in collaboration with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Misk Foundation, will be distributed across six categories with entrants segmented by size, operational age, number of employees, funding, scale, and societal impact.

“This competition is one of the world’s largest prize funds – and it comes without strings attached, no expectations of equity share, for example,” commented Michael Champion, CEO of Tahaluf, the strategic joint venture between Informa PLC, the Events Investment Fund, and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, which organises LEAP alongside the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. “This is why Saudi is getting so much attention worldwide – it’s putting the customer, the company, the entrepreneur first, showing that it’s emerged as a globally exciting place for startups and investors,” added Champion.

Rocket Fuel competitors will take to the stage during LEAP 2024, where the 12 shortlisted start-ups will present to a star-studded judging panel in a grand finale on March 7.

The biggest prize – the LEAP Award – will go to the startup judged as the most outstanding entry across the competition. The remaining accolades include the ‘Technology for Humanity Award’, for the startup that best embodies the values of sustainability and social impact; the ‘Shooting Star Award’, for the early-stage startup under three years old beginning its journey; the ‘Into New Worlds Award’ for the most impressive startup across the Metaverse and Web 3 space; the ‘Avatrix Award’ for the best, most innovative startup pioneered by women founders; and the ‘Artificial Intelligence Awards’ for the startup presenting the most exciting, ground-breaking use of AI.

The 2023 competition saw Saudi Arabia’s Plastus, which produces 100 per cent biodegradable bioplastics through bacteria fermentation, scoop the main LEAP Award prize from a pool of 90 regional and international startups. The company’s CEO, Nouf Alhazmi, said the award had delivered a seismic impact on the startup: “The LEAP Award at the Rocket Fuel competition was a game-changer for us, enabling us to complete our entire retrofitting stage”.

Anticipating the 2024 entry field, H.E Laila Rahhal El Atfani, President & Founder of Business Gate and Women Business Circle, of the Rocket Fuel judging panel, commented: “In 2023, judges were genuinely impressed by the diversity of both founders, their teams, and solutions. The Kingdom has played a significant role in driving professionalism by welcoming not only top established companies but also involving themselves in their growth of outstanding startups. We’re sure the quality will increase again in 2024 as startups pitch their solutions in line with the foundational criteria linked to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals.”

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