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TONOMUS Venture Studio is giving startups a $1.4 billion shot in the arm

On the sidelines of LEAP 2023, Beverly Rider, CEO of TONOMUS Venture Studio, tells how venture competitions are key to attracting talent and building a new generation of entrepreneurs

TONOMUS Venture Studio is giving startups a $1.4 billion shot in the arm
[Source photo: Fast Company Middle East Staff]

Many entrepreneurs wish for a shot in the arm early on as they try to build their businesses and disrupt the tech world by innovating. And while many pioneering tech accelerators and incubators have been thinning their investments, fortunately, some companies support entrepreneurs working on the most complicated new technology, be it cognitive tech, metaverse, hyperconnectivity, or data privacy.

TONOMUS Venture Studio is designed to help fill a gap in the current venture capital and startup ecosystem in the Middle East and beyond. Since its recent establishment, TONOMUS Venture Studio has committed an investment of $1.4 billion for the next five years, with 6 ventures currently incubating.

“The studio hit the ground running with a venture competition, launched in January 2023, focused on the metaverse. A second contest is launching in February,” said Beverly Rider, CEO of TONOMUS Venture Studio, when we caught up with her on the sidelines of LEAP 2023 in Riyadh.

The venture competitions are a vital feature of the studio’s strategy to attract talent, build a new generation of entrepreneurs, and develop ventures and investments. “That will nurture the ecosystem of cognitive technologies and develop proactive, predictive products and solutions across a broad array of sectors,” adds Rider.


As a new gateway to digital experiences, the metaverse opens up exciting new possibilities for entertainment, arts, collaboration, and productivity. And Rider says the metaverse competition will bring forth “new industries waiting to be invented—when they are, we will be able to unlock the full promise of the metaverse.”

The first installment of the competition focused on unlocking the full potential of the metaverse by providing a platform for innovations that seamlessly bridge the physical and digital worlds while empowering the cognitive technology ecosystem that TONOMUS is building at NEOM, she adds.

 The second competition invites participants to consider the new technologies that an additional billion people in the world might require to spark and sustain growth across key industries/verticals such as energy, food, and mobility.

The studio is building a portfolio of ventures using Silicon Valley–influenced methodology and guidance; it’s a platform where a new generation of entrepreneurs develop pioneering technologies — some of which haven’t even been contemplated yet.


And for that, Rider says, hiring the right talent is fundamental to the company’s success and its ability to sustain and extend innovation.

“Attracting elite and emerging talent is also key to making Saudi Arabia a hub for global entrepreneurship, enabling NEOM to act as a central connector for the country and creating a dynamic, multicultural platform for knowledge exchange.

Extensive collaboration and ingenuity are needed, so ideas and perspectives from everyone, everywhere, are vital for TONOMUS’ pipeline of ventures to foster entrepreneurship and develop cognitive tech, Rider adds.

Talking about key ideas that can foster entrepreneurship and develop ventures, Rider says the studio employs a broad range of perspectives to evaluate how it can leverage world-changing cognitive technologies to solve current and future challenges. 

“On a broader scale, the studio’s venture competitions will feed into its pipeline, focused on the cognitive ecosystem, including Web3, hyperconnectivity, hyperscale data centers, computing capability, data privacy, intelligent analytics, AI, robotics, networking equipment and cloud infrastructure, digital twin technology, gaming, and more.”

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