Meet The Winners of the HCT-Wharton Innovation Tournament 2021

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Early this May, three forward-thinking companies from the Middle East and North Africa took home the top prizes at the HCT-Wharton Innovation Tournament 2021.

Although the tournament was held in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the Higher College of Technology in the UAE and the Wharton School’s journal Arabic Knowledge@Wharton, the tournament received over 200 submissions from around the world, including those from India, Pakistan and Europe. Entrants ranged from working professionals to college students; one finalist was a high school student!

The innovations, which were designed to respond to society’s needs, were scored on a scale of 1-5 (worst to best), on the following criteria:

  • Need: How significant is the need identified by the submitter?
  • Solution: How good is the solution proposed by the submitter?
  • Novelty: How interesting or novel is the solution?
  • Implementation: To what extent has the submitter implemented the innovation and resolved the major uncertainty associated with it?
  • Overall score:  The overall assessment of the innovation.

The winners of the 2013 HCT-Wharton Innovation Tournament 2021 are:

  1. First place (AED30,000) – DiaLife (Algeria);
  2. Second place (AED20,000) Madad (Egypt);
  3. Third place (AED15,000) Recycle Bin (UAE);
  4. Fourth place (AED10,000) SIIRD (India)


We have some of the highest diabetes rates per capita in the region. The UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia are in the top 10 countries for diabetes prevalence worldwide, and we spend $5.5 billion on diabetes healthcare annually.

Diabetes is also a leading cause of blindness in adults (diabetic retinopathy) and can lead to limb amputations (diabetic neuropathy).

DiaLife allows diabetics to input blood sugar level data over time and share it directly with their doctors on an interactive platform. The website, which was designed with doctor input, allows doctors to communicate with patients by posting on their "DiaWall."

The online platform also offers a Diapedia: an encyclopedia of information on all topics related to diabetes.

The inspiration for DiaLife came from the personal experience of Tahar Zanouda, an engineering student from Algeria. His grandfather had passed away from diabetes, his parents were Type 1 diabetics, and he himself was at high risk to develop the disease.

The team of three Algerian college students—which also includes Amine Bounoughaz and Amine Aboura—were the first team from the Arab world to place as finalists at Microsoft's Imagine Cup global finals in Sydney, Australia last year.  


Sherif Nagui, a Wharton graduate student from Egypt, has been obsessed with trying to find better ways to respond to Egypt’s broad social and economic needs by empowering civil society. To ensure that good ideas don’t lose momentum, but rather can turn into viable initiatives, Nagui created Madad.

The social business, powered by an online platform, provides NGOs with access to technology, strategic planning, and key data and information, all designed to help Egypt’s thousands of underfunded organizations secure capital.

In return, Madad, which is scheduled to launch in Ramadan, will provide regular reports and updates on project progress, developments, achievements and outstanding needs.

Recycle Bin

Aisha Al Shehhi and Khawla Al Mur, both 21-year old Emirati students at Fujairah Women's College, created Recycle Bin to make recycling more fun and to increase the uptake of this essential ecological practice.

Producing around 5 million tons of trash a year, the UAE has some of the highest waste generation rates, and while recycling is still very nascent. (One company that has already tried to tackle the issue is WMSMI, which was launched by two Egyptian brothers).

Recycle Bin would operate like a carnival game, awarding recyclers with valuable retail coupons for every 15 recycled plastic bottles. Recyclers have to throw their bottle in colored slots that light up in a four-slot machine.


Students Initiative for Integrated Rural Development (SIIRD) rounded out the entries in fourth place with a multistakeholder, sustainable development model for improving conditions in rural villages in India. The submission, by Indian Uday Umakant Bhardwaj, will help student volunteers find positions within academia, private, public, and civil society sectors for the greater good of society.

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