Following the outstanding success of the inaugural edition of its KAUST Challenge to crowdsource ideas for Hajj and Umrah in 2020, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in partnership with Asbar World Forum and Google for Startups Accelerator today announced the launch its new challenge titled ‘Shaping the Future of Media’.
Aimed at identifying innovative solutions to the most pressing pain points surrounding the Saudi media ecosystem, the Challenge seeks to drive the country’s nascent culture and entertainment industry.
Speaking about the second KAUST Challenge, Dr Najah Ashry, Senior Associate to the President & VP Strategic National Advancement at KAUST, said: “We are proud to launch a new cycle of the KAUST Challenge, this time focused on Shaping the Future of Media. The world of work and education have witnessed significant disruptions and transitioned online to address the restrictions of the pandemic, and digital transformation has become the single biggest investment to keep pace with our rapid uptake of technology.
“Ensuring a robust and dynamic media industry is the need of the hour in Saudi Arabia and globally to help us navigate this critical period in history. As an innovation thought leader, KAUST is committed to shaping an innovation-focused R & D ecosystem and to partner with the participating individuals and entities to help overcome the systemic challenges facing the country. We firmly believe that enabling a better tomorrow is a collective responsibility rather than one confined to the government alone.”
She added: “We look forward to receiving some truly out-of-the-box submissions and transformative ideas to drive the enhancement of the media sector that is a progressive and growth-focused one – given its outsized impact on the society and its game changing role in shaping the future.”
For his part, Dr Fahad Al-Orabi Al-Harthi, President of the Asbar World Forum, said: "We are highly privileged to work with KAUST to launch this exciting project amid the fast-paced disruption the media industry is witnessing to keep up with the evolving challenges, both in terms of content and mediums.”
Al-Harthi also expressed his confidence that the project will achieve its objectives since it is led and run by a world-class university.
Through the challenge, KAUST aims to catalyze research, innovation, economic development, and social prosperity in Saudi Arabia. Via crowdsourcing initiatives, the challenge aims to encourage local and international talent to identify ideas and solutions to advance the country’s national priorities and support Saudi Vision 2030. In doing so, the University and Asbar World Forum will leverage bold science, technology, and engineering initiatives to transform the lives of Saudis and foster local talent. Individuals and organizations of any size or type from around the world who are driven to shape the future of media are welcome to apply.
Participants can submit proposals across 13 key themes – content filtering, e-games, data privacy & security, ecosystem support, content protection, inclusiveness & accessibility, content creation, content distribution, insights & analytics, media localization, regulatory barriers, content noise, and setting idealistic standards.
All interested participants can send in their entries from June 10 to August 1, 2021. At the close of submissions, all valid applications will be evaluated by subject matter experts to shortlist the most relevant and innovative solutions. An expert committee will further review the shortlisted ideas and choose 30 finalists. The finalists will then be tasked with developing a detailed proposal to implement their ideas and solutions and submit the presentation document or video for the last round of evaluations.
A selection committee comprising regional and international media leaders will pick the Grand Winner before September 5, following careful consideration of each of the proposals, and the winning proposal will receive a cash prize of SAR300,000 at a special award ceremony scheduled for late September 2021.