KUWAIT CITY, April 18, King Abdullah Economic City: MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, in partnership with founding partner Community Jameel and the Zain Group, announced the winners of the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition from a total of 76 contesting teams from 15 Arab countries. The competition’s final award ceremony was held at the Bay La Sun Hotel & Marina in the King Abdullah Economic City on April 14, 2016. This year’s event was also supported by government partner the Economic Cities Authority and hosting partner the King Abdullah Economic City along with global technology provider Huawei.
The competition was preceded by the Time to Invest in Arab Youth and Their Innovations Conference, organized by MIT Technology Review Arab Edition. During the conference, MIT Technology Review Arab Edition’s five innovators under 35 in the Arab world were announced.
The ninth edition of this year’s competition received an outstanding 5,967 individual and team applications from 21 Arab countries, up from 4,275 last year, and representing a record participation of over 16,500 entrepreneurs up from 12,000 last year. The 9 winning teams across three tracks – Ideas, Startups, and Social Entrepreneurship – hail from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.
The US$50,000 top prize for the best start up track was awarded to Kuwait’s Ghinwa, who are building a mobile application that can be used by users to perform Karaoke where songs are licensed from the copyright owners to ensure legality, allowing users to share and promote their talents across different social media platforms.
Several high-profile entrepreneurs, investors and government officials from Saudi Arabia, the region and beyond shared insight during the conference and judged the competition. These include HRH Saud K Al-Faisal, Executive Director for Investment Policy at SAGIA, HH Reema Bint Bandar, founder and CEO of Alf Khair, Fady Mohammed Jameel, President of Community Jameel International, Scott Gegenheimer, CEO of Zain Group, Hassan Kabbani, CEO of Zain Saudi Arabia, Fahd Al Rasheed, Group CEO and Managing Director of Emaar Economic City and Wassim Khashoggi, vice secretary general operations of the Economic Cities Authority. Speakers and judges from several leading organizations in the finance and technology space such as Google, Facebook, Oak Investment Partners, 500 Startups and MBC Group also shared insight during the event.
The announcement of the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition ceremony took place during the evening award ceremony and the winners took home a pool of prize money totaling US$150,000.
Apart from the winner’s prize money, each of the Ideas, Startups, and Social Entrepreneurship tracks semi-finalists benefitted from top tier training, mentorship, coaching, media exposure, and great networking opportunities throughout the competition.
Startups Track: Winner: Ghinwa from Kuwait; 2nd place: Zamen from Egypt (A mobile application for real-time news feeds, filtered to display only the topics users interested in); 3rd place: B8ak from Saudi Arabia (A mobile application for home maintenance delivery)
Ideas Track: Winner: Tutorama from Egypt (A marketplace of pre-vetted, professionally recruited tutors, which students and parents can use to search for tutors by subject, curriculum, location/distance and scheduling availability; 2nd place: Deep OR from Morocco (Data Analytics and Operations Research to help make quick and educated resource allocation decisions); 3rd place: Ostor Lab from Morocco (A cloud-based mobile application vulnerability scanner)
Social Entrepreneurship Track: Winner: Hydropneumatic Flushing System from Tunisia (An economic water flush that does not leak and that withstands frequent use); 2nd place: Pathfinder from Lebanon (A mobile app and a belt, both automatically and securely connected to serve the visually impaired harmonically and safely) and 3rd place: Low Cost PPC from Jordan (A lower leg prosthetic with low production costs).
5 Innovators under 35: Ahmed Alfadhel (Saudi Arabia) – King Abdullah University for Science & Technology; Eve Tamraz (Lebanon) – White Labs; Jean Nehme (Lebanon) – Touch Surgery; Osman Bakr (KSA) – King Abdullah University for Science & Technology and Yaman Abou Jeib (Syria) – Glean.