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The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota and Saudi Arabia Frequently Asked Questions

Why Saudi Arabia?

Even though the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s oil-based economy has generated record profits in recent years, the Saudi government, which has a strong influence on most major economic activities, is actively seeking to build a more diverse, knowledge-based economy.

To do this, the Saudi government has encouraged greater private sector involvement and is seeking – both at the government and private-sector level – partnerships with foreign entities and companies. These partnerships could come in a variety of arrangements, including establishing a direct presence in the Kingdom, export sales, joint ventures with Saudi firms, technology transfers, mutual research projects, academic and institutional cooperative agreements, and investment. In all cases, the opportunities to gain from the booming Saudi economy are numerous and lucrative.


Why is The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota (BBAM) involved?

BBAM is a nonprofit organization committed to cultivating the long-term viability of Minnesota’s bioscience sector through the advancement of knowledge-based economic development. Full Spectrum Funding is a core BBAM initiative focused on improving the funding environment for start-up companies statewide. BBAM recognizes that investors and venture capital funds are not adequate to meet the needs of all the fundable companies in Minnesota, and traditional funding sources are increasingly shifting their focus to larger and later-stage investments. For this reason there is a growing need for strategic and other alternative investment relationships. The Saudi Initiative is one of the tools BBAM is utilizing to assist Minnesota companies in connecting to funding sources and accessing markets important for their growth.

 As part of the Full Spectrum Funding Initiative BBAM has done the following:

  •  Established relationships with venture capital firms outside of Minnesota which has to date resulted in approximately $17 million in direct investment into Minnesota companies, with an additional syndication of approximately $68 million.
  • Worked with legislature, industry and trade groups for the passage of the Angel Investor Tax Credit and expansion of the R&D tax credit to help increase access to financing for small bioscience start-ups.
  • Initiated and developed the Minnesota Angel Network (MNAN) dedicated to accelerating the growth of start-up companies and increasing project financing throughout Minnesota by creating an environment that brings Minnesota angel investors back into the investment community.

 

What opportunities exist for Minnesota companies?

By leveraging technologies of strategic importance to Saudi Arabia in the areas of water supply, food production, renewable energy, and healthcare, BBAM believes the initiative is an opportunity for Saudi and Minnesota companies to form lasting partnerships important in establishing cooperative agreements, export sales, conducting research, and obtaining investment capital.

The pilot Minnesota company participants were interested in this opportunity because they were looking for strategic partners, distributors, financing, and clinical study sites.

 

Did you partner with any other organizations for this pilot trip?

BBAM partnered with Al Khaymah Establishment USA, a well reputed, specialized business, investment, and public affairs firm offering services for those seeking to establish business and investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.

 

Why did BBAM partner with another organization?

BBAM recognized the necessity and value of a partnership with Al Khaymah to: (1.) assist in identifying and selecting Minnesota companies aligned with the Saudi strategic focus; (2) introduce companies, products, and projects to key Saudi government entities and officials, investors, private business, and academic and research organizations; (3) organize visits to Jeddah and Riyadh to meet and engage in focused discussions with interested Saudi officials, businesses, and organizations; (4) accompany BBAM and participating companies during the visit to Saudi Arabia; (5) assist in the preparation of company and product portfolios for Saudi partners/investors; and (6) assist in recommended follow-up activities to secure agreements.

 

Who was involved with this pilot trip?

The companies involved in the pilot trip had a business relationship with BBAM, are developing technology that strategically align with the needs of the Kingdom, and were aware that this was a test process. To launch the program, BBAM presented approximately 15 company options with diversity across the strategic focus areas to Al Khaymah for participation. Based on alignment and likelihood of success in securing a deal, Al Khaymah selected five companies to participate in the first trip.

The trip included two medical technology companies, a molecular engineering company, an agriculture company and a renewable energy company.

 

When did the first trip take place?

BBAM and the five Minnesota companies traveled to Saudi Arabia January 6 - January 14, 2011.

 

Who did the Minnesota companies meet with?

The Minnesota companies met with Saudi Arabia government officials, private companies, private individuals and academics.


Will there be a second trip planned?

This is to be determined.

 

How long will the business relationship last with Saudi Arabia?

If successful, BBAM’s goal is to translate this pilot initiative into an ongoing mutually beneficial funding and business development system.

 

Is this relationship similar to your other relationships with international partners?

The Saudi Arabia relationship is with a private sector enterprise. BBAM’s other relationships with Japan, Canada and Sweden are aligned more with the academic and public sectors that support private sector development. Each of these relationships have a different focus that meets a need of the Minnesota private sector.

 

Does this business relationship have a connection to Burrill & Company or Elk Run?

No. This is a separate project stemming from BBAM’s Full Spectrum Funding initiative focusing on improving the funding environment for startup companies statewide. The BBAM Saudi program has no relationship to either of these two organizations.









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