Amal Dokhan from KAUST about Technology and Universities

Technology is progressing and evolving everyday. We can witness -or even better, be part of- its advancement and the growing number of inventors. More generally there are a lot of people with new ideas and the good news are that, according to Amal, it’s getting easier to bring those ideas to life. However, there are still great problems in the world that are not finding solutions.

Every problem is an opportunity, it’s an empty space that gives a place for entrepreneurs to build something great. Most entrepreneurs try to imitate things that are already on the market and do it better and that’s good but there are so many untouched areas that need technological solutions. Why are we not able to use technology and implement it to solve the problems around us? Over 57% of shares of the market are need seekers, they find a need and build a product. We lack technology drivers. The issue is that there is a gap between the minds of the customers and the technology creators. Technology drivers need to understand that not everyone will get how they will impact the world. Researchers tend to think their technology is great and focus only on that but the customers don’t want to know how the technology works. And they shouldn’t be the ones who have to make the effort to understand the other. This is a proven fact, businesses which directly captured customer insight do much better with a 3x growth in operating income and 60% of increased revenue. Talking to customers, diving more into their life is called empathy and is needed to build a successful startup.

To link educated people who can bring research and technology and the needs of the market KAUST created the entrepreneurship center with two accelerators, events and night classes. The initiative was successful and students starting coming with ideas and questions. Companies need new ideas and because of the corporate innovation program they can come with the obstacles they want to overcome and together they work on them and try to link them with the startups and existing ideas in the center.

While doing all this great work to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, the team realized that one segment was underserved: the IP startups. Those with patents and that are a little more complex. So they built a new program and came up with two solutions. One of them is Tech Nav, a gamified set of questions that helps startups progress and move from one point to another. It allows entrepreneurs to assess themselves and see how ready their technology is.They often think they are ready to go to market but haven’t gone through customer discovery.

You can Watch the whole talk here.


─ March 29, 2016