Dubai students take on business
School teams in start-up showdown
S ome of the UAE’s brightest young things moved a step closer to launching their own start-ups at a special Demo Day in Dubai yesterday. From a smart shoe for the visually impaired, through to a smart, eco-friendly irrigation system, a drone programmed to ease traffic congestion and many more, the ideas on show were all progressive and innovative.
Though markedly different from each other, all had one thing in common. Forget business degrees, MBAs or even work experience - the entrepreneurs behind these innovative proposals are all still at school.
The teams from different schools across the UAE were taking part in a Demo Day as part of the Arab Innovation Centre for Education (AICE) Accelerator programme, which helps students in the UAE to create their own start-ups. Just 10 teams are left from more than 700 submissions, and yesterday they were given 10 minutes each to pitch their plans to business leaders, venture capital firms and even the Prime Minister’s Office at GEMS Wellington Academy in Silicon Oasis.
Karan Deep, innovation development manager at GEMS explained: “In line with the UAE vision 2021 and UAE leadership ambition to make the UAE and region the most innovative in world, GEMS Education conceived AICE, a centre set up to foster a culture of creative entrepreneurship.
“The accelerator programme is the first of its kind in the region and it aims to help students evolve school projects, ideas and innovations and make them into a business reality.”
The teams battling it out for the big prize on May 3 have made it this far thanks to the commercial feasibility, innovation and social impact of their projects.
For example, Vishweswar Eswaran, aged 13, has created ODI, an app and device fitted in the shoe to help the visually impaired detect obstacles in their path.
Altair, by tech head Arjun Bharkar and business brain Sara Ansari, both 14, is a meticulously designed carbon fibre drone which can gather and analyse data. Grēner
Irrigation, by Elie Dib, Mostafa Kamel and Isabella Malixi, all 16, is a plug and play irrigation system, activated by moisture and nutrient sensors.
Each team impressed in terms of presentation and business sense. Karan explains: “Over the last two months we have been working with them to help build the product from the business aspect as well as the technical side. Each team has been paired up with a mentor to learn ‘21st century skills’, pitching and presentations and business models, through training and workshops.”
PITCH PERFECT: Students from a number of UAE schools showcased their bright ideas at an AICE Demo Day