UnitX Closes $2 Million Investment with KAUST and Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures

Press Release: Saudi-based investment organizations KAUST Innovation Fund and Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures invest in AI and supercomputing startup, UnitX.

Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, October 8, 2019 — UnitX, an artificial intelligence (AI) and digital transformation startup spun-out from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), has secured USD $2 Million of co-investment from the KAUST Innovation Fund and Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures.

This injection of joint funding will support UnitX in its quest to democratize adoption of advanced computing and help enterprises of all sizes leverage technologies such as high-performance data analytics to make data-driven decisions, reduce IT spending, innovate and become globally competitive.

Successful AI adoption requires scale: the infrastructure to perform both big compute (trillions of calculations per second), and big data (analysis of data in excess of 2 Terabytes) tasks. Modern supercomputers are specialized machines that process both tasks efficiently, at much higher speeds compared to public clouds. However, they can cost tens of millions of dollars to own and operate and have been affordable by only large companies, universities and government. UnitX democratizes supercomputing via partnerships with institutions that have spare supercomputing capacity and by making it available in an easy-to-use cloud model to its clients in traditionally underserved industry verticals, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and beyond.

UnitX Co-founder and CEO, Kiran Narayanan explained, “UnitX is an agile company. We are breaking the barriers of skill and access to supercomputers — which are traditionally expensive beyond the reach of most companies — and partnering with institutions that have unused supercomputing power. We then make this spare capacity available to the companies on our platform in a manner that is easy to use.”

Specifically, this co-investment will be used in UnitX’s rapid team expansion in order to cater to growing client demands. Additionally, the funding will support business development for large clients (financial and retail) as well as SMEs. The team is currently securing contracts with leading financial, insurance, retail and SMEs. UnitX is expected to grow and cater to government, supply chain and oil and gas stakeholders.

Founder Narayanan continued, “UnitX is excited to have Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures and the KAUST Innovation Fund onboard as investors. With their support we will be able to generate value both locally in Saudi Arabia, expand globally and innovate further.”

Tamer Osman, Head of the KAUST Innovation Fund, said that,UnitX is bridging a new frontier in advancing big compute power and making it more accessible to sectors that have previously been unable to access the benefits of supercomputing. At KAUST, we are actively investing in startups and technology that are shaping industry 4.0, and UnitX is deep tech startup at the forefront of this revolution.”

Salman T. Jaffrey, Chief Investment Officer at Wa’ed Ventures and incoming board member on UnitX, praised the efforts and ambition of UnitX’s cofounders — Kiran Narayanan, Ravi Samtaney, Ankita Shree, and Salman Kattan — and their inspiring journey. “We are thrilled to have led this investment with KAUST, which is testament to our fund’s inimitable approach on fueling the growth of Kingdom-based startups and shared vision of advancing the Saudi venture ecosystem” remarked Mr. Jaffrey.

Various key industry verticals, including governments, healthcare, manufacturing, banking, retail, and insurance, are currently neither adequately nor accessibly served by big compute, data analytics and AI. Those industries face the dual challenges of running big compute workloads while simultaneously integrating different I.T. resources. Currently, the standard solutions of on-premise servers, public cloud providers, and supercomputing centers have significant access barriers and security concerns. According to figures from IDC, the market for supercomputing demand is currently valued at USD $224 billion with a projected 25% year-on-year growth.

UnitX delivers an easy access solution for companies needing scalable, affordable, and secure big compute infrastructure. Their product, the UnitX™ Sentient docks ready-to-deploy applications and workflows for Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML), that can be launched, with the click of a button, on the most suitable compute hardware such as public clouds, a client’s on-premise clusters or the latest supercomputers in the UnitX partner network. UnitX’s proprietary AI algorithms select the best resources for each end user. The use of container technology ensures that each software application is docked on the platform in a manner that is hardware-agnostic while ensuring total security.

UnitX delivers to the end user tenfold faster results, a 60% reduction in costs, and easier workflows. Security concerns are alleviated for CIO’s or Data Center Managers with improved data security, no CSP lock-in, and increased transparency.

Since the UnitX platform’s public launch in May 2019, it has established supercomputing partnerships with KAUST, King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, a technology partnership with Atrio, and a strategic partnership with Virtual Integrated Analytics Solutions (VIAS). Most notably, it was a finalist in Startup Istanbul in October 2018, winner of the Arabnet competition in Riyadh in December 2018 and chosen as one of the Saudi finalists in the MISK-organized Entrepreneurship World Cup in June 2019.

About UnitX

With its first pilot delivered in January 2019, UnitX is driving AI adoption by breaking the barriers of skill, cost and complexity of AI deployment, with a cloud-based business model. It harnesses supercomputing expertise to provide customized products and services on the UnitX online software platforms for its varied client base. Its products help companies across several industry verticals, such as finance and insurance, government, retail, telecoms, healthcare and logistics and manufacturing in two ways: to make data-driven decisions by adopting big data analytics and AI; and to design better products in a swift manner by adopting a simulation-assisted prototyping approach that relies on parallel computing. Learn more at: https://unitx.io/.


Established in 2009, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is a graduate research university devoted to finding solutions for some of the world’s most pressing scientific and technological challenges in the areas of food, water, energy and the environment. With 19 research areas related to these themes and state of the art labs, KAUST has created a collaborative and interdisciplinary problem solving environment, which has resulted in over 11,000 published papers to date.

With over 100 different nationalities living, working and studying on campus, KAUST has brought together the best minds and ideas from around the world with the goal of advancing science and technology through distinctive and collaborative research. KAUST is a catalyst for innovation, economic development and social prosperity in Saudi Arabia and the world. For additional information, visit: www.kaust.edu.sa.

About Wa’ed Ventures

Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures LLC (also known as Wa’ed Ventures) is a $200 million venture capital investment fund of Saudi Aramco that invests in innovative and impactful, early stage startups with high growth potential. The fund aims to promote economic development in Saudi Arabia and enhance the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in the Kingdom.

Wa’ed Ventures is a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center LLC (Wa’ed), the flagship entrepreneurship program established by Saudi Aramco for SME loan financing, incubation, training and enterprise support for entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit www.waed.net.


Ankita Shree, Co-Founder and CFO
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