Etihad Group targets UAE innovators, entrepreneurs with ‘Fikra’ project
As part of the UAE’s Innovation Week, Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) has launched Fikra, a UAE-based competition aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and innovation across the country. Fikra means ‘idea’ in Arabic and the competition aims to encourage students to deliver solutions to some of the major challenges facing the aviation industry in today’s ever-competitive environment.
The challenges of the competition are focused on ten areas where the travel group is looking for specific ideas. They are focused on delivering ideas around digital evolution, stopover visits, ancillary sales opportunities, improving loyalty schemes, specialist cargo, social media, youth engagement, airport experience and the environment. In addition there is a special category called ‘Out of the Box’ that allows the next generation to pitch game changing ideas, in line with some of the concepts that the airline has already launched such as The Residence.
Fatima Al-Jefri, Director at the Department of Science, Technology and Research in the Ministry of Education, said: “The Ministry believes that education and research are important ways to acquire, develop and learn knowledge so we strongly support Etihad Airways in their Fikra initiative, as it will engage the students in innovation and business development. The project will invest in our youth and help them to pave the way forward to a sustainable and prosperous future.”
Ray Gammell, Chief People and Performance Officer for EAG, said: “Innovation is key to how we do business and how we will continue to grow as a travel group. We’ve reached the size we are today by innovating quickly and supporting an entrepreneurial spirit throughout our business units. That commitment doesn’t stop, the new Fikra project gives us an opportunity to hear from the country’s next generation and we hope it will deliver ideas that can push us to the next level of our development.”
The first phase of the competition will see all submissions evaluated, appraised and scored on their merits. The 20 highest scoring participants will move forward to the next phase of the competition. In the second stage, the top two ideas in each challenge will get the opportunity to work closely with and be mentored by a subject matter expert from EAG. The 20 successful participants will work to develop their ideas into achievable business plans under the guidance of the travel group’s management. Those participants will also be given the opportunity to present their business plans to the senior management of EAG who will choose the top ten winning ideas.
The winners will get the opportunity to take up a coveted internship with one of the EAG businesses to help convert their idea into reality or alternatively can choose an internship with some of EAG’s key strategic partners including BT, Cognizant, SAP, TATA Consultancy Services, IBM, Sabre, Stelia Aerospace, Zodiac Aerospace, CAE Inc, B/E Aerospace Inc, Recaro Aircraft Seating and Thales Avionics Inc. These internships will give the students a chance to take their ideas even further in a professional environment and to experience first-hand how major multinational businesses use and benefit from innovation on a day to day basis.
Hareb Al-Muhairy, Senior Vice President for Corporate and International Affairs at EAG, said: “The competition will provide another opportunity for the youth of the UAE to tell us about their ideas so we can continue to build both the best airline but also one fit for the challenges of the future. Innovation is essential to the development of our airline and we’re excited about the ideas we’re going to see and the possibilities ahead.” EAG is now inviting students from universities across the UAE to participate in the competition. All students from universities in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khema, Um Quiwan and Fujairah may apply. It is open to all UAE university students regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, topic or year of study. All students who register will be entered into a free raffle with some fantastic travel, sporting and cultural prizes on offer.
UAE Innovation Week is taking place between Sunday November 20 and Saturday November 26 during 2016. The week is a nationwide celebration of innovation in line with the directive of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. It is one of the largest innovation initiatives in the world and combines a consolidated effort by the government, the private sector and individuals to help create a widespread culture in the UAE, to strengthen its position as a global hub for innovation.