The MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) of the Pan Arab Region announced the winners of the 11th edition of the Arab Startup Competition. This annual competition, which attracted 400 investors, business entrepreneurs, and media representatives, aims at supporting and celebrating innovation in the Arab world by awarding entrepreneurs and providing them with an avenue to exhibit and apply their ideas.
The final award ceremony, in partnership with Community Jameel, and in collaboration with this year’s strategic partners Riyada, Omantel, and Zain Group as a digital partner, took place in Oman on April 19, announcing ten winning teams.
Community Jameel, a social enterprise organization that operates a wide range of initiatives to promote a positive society and economic sustainability, has been a founding partner for 12 consecutive years.
Prior to the final award ceremony, the 80 semi-finalists underwent a round of training sessions and presented their work to a jury that brought together a number of key investors and business people.
The winner of the ‘Ideas Track’ was Egyptian Quirpod, an online platform that develops students' 21st century skills through expert-developed content and an engaging UX. The first runner up was Lebanese Spike, a startup that helps make diabetes management less diabetic via software and hardware innovations. The second runner up was Jordanian Smart Data Logger, which uses IoT and roaming cellular connection to allow real-time monitoring of the temperature of a shipment.
When it comes to the ‘Social Entrepreneurship Track’, the winner was Al Khudairi for biogas technology, from Egypt. It converts the waste and soil-damaging chemical fertilizers into energy. The solution also allows the production of biomethane gas, an alternative to fill gas cylinders. Fabric Aid from Lebanon was the first runner up.
The startup implements a successful European model that gives incentives to NGOs to collect more clothing without worrying about expenses and distribution. The second runner up was Sunbox from Palestine, which introduces an affordable off-grid, self-installable small solar kit for families who suffer from electricity shortage.
As for the ‘Startups Track’, the winner was ProvenMed International, from Tunisia, which introduced a solution with options for restoring normal social life for patients suffering from Urine Incontinence. Egyptian WideBot was the first runner up. It offers businesses a chatbot building platform. Plotos from the UAE was also a first runner up. It connects users to handpicked healthy yet trendy food from favorite restaurants through an innovative user-friendly platform created and endorsed by nutrition experts. And the third first runner up was Solar Foods from Sudan, a pioneer eco-friendly company in the field of food processing.
During the ceremony, Hala Fadel, chair of the Board of MITEF Pan Arab said: “We are so proud that this year’s biggest Arab startup event is being held in Oman. This event is not only a competition, but an opportunity for top tier Arab entrepreneurs to present and share their experiences in the area of innovation and the creation and nurturing of an ecosystem for innovation within Oman. Investing in Arab entrepreneurship will, in turn, contribute to the revitalization of the economy, and lead to the creation of new partnerships that can eventually transform into large institutions.”
Fady Mohammed Jameel, president of Community Jameel International, said: “At Community Jameel, we are honoured to serve entrepreneurs across the region and have been delighted that our efforts have been so well received.” He continued: “The major success of the MITEF Pan Arab competition has been our record of translating ideas into successful businesses, and innovative concepts into stories of success. Since launching in 2006, we have provided financial support totalling almost $970,000 to over 430 technology and knowledge-based start-ups. More than 2,300 young and ambitious entrepreneurs have received high-level training by regional and world experts creating at least 2,600 new job opportunities.”
The final event ceremony included a panel discussion entitled ‘Building Emerging Ecosystems’ led by Hala Fadel, founding member and chair of MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, with David Fernanédz, business intelligence at Startup Chile and Ahmed Al Alfi, founder and chairman at Sawari Ventures, as speakers.
Another panel discussion, themed ‘What Silicon Valley investors want to see in MENA’, was moderated by Sharifa AlBarami, managing director at Oman Technology Fund, with Sharif El-Badawi, partner at 500 Startups and Tarek Fahim, managing partner at Endure Capital, as speakers.