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DU, from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, today announced the four winners of the du Emirati Startup Challenge launched in partnership with Zayed University and co-organised by E11 Global and Step Group. The winners were chosen from 18 Emirati startups selected for the final round of the Challenge.
The finalists presented their pitches to His Excellency Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, and a panel of judges from Zayed University. Mabany won the first place and Emit the second while Fursah and Drive Less shared the third place. The top two winners received cash prizes of AED25,000 and AED 15,000 respectively while the two third-place winners won AED 10,000 each.
Launched on 3 April, 2018, the Emirati Startup Challenge is a nationwide competition aimed at empowering Emirati youth with an entrepreneurial drive and preparing them to successfully contribute to the UAE’s startup ecosystem. The competition invited Emirati students from universities across the UAE to submit innovative technology or social entrepreneurial startup ideas for the Challenge.
His Excellency Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence welcomed the finalists at the event and said: “We are extremely proud of the startups who presented today. This is a pioneering initiative that supports the growth of entrepreneurial aspirations and skillsets both in the country and in the region.”
According to MAGNiTT, the largest data platform of start-ups and investors in the MENA region, entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystems have been strong contributors to the UAE’s economy. To promote the growth of small enterprises in the UAE, both the government and private sector have placed high priority on supporting homegrown entrepreneurial initiatives.
Fahad Al Hassawi, Deputy Chief Officer of Telco Services, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company said: “At du, we have supported the UAE start-up environment since our inception through a variety of du-owned and partnership platforms. Our aim has always been to give individuals the tools to succeed, thereby contributing to the wider goals of growing the UAE knowledge-based economy. The Emirati Startup Challenge seeks to nurture young talent and encourage entrepreneurship among UAE nationals.”
Selected from 30 startups, the 18 finalists underwent an intensive two-day boot camp programme on the fundamentals of starting a business. The programme also included various workshops designed to build the various skillsets necessary to survive in the UAE’s startup ecosystem. Participants also took part in a Mentoring & Pitch programme where they gained market knowledge to enhance their business models from 14 different expert coaches.
“The exceptional quality of the proposals we received is testament to the bright ideas and immense young talent the UAE has to offer. These ideas will hopefully turn into viable businesses that can contribute to the UAE's economy and will be the provider of thousands of employment opportunities in the future. We are pleased to see so many young Emirati candidates presenting creative ideas for solving both local and regional challenges and contributing to the start-up ecosystem. Personally, as an Emirati who started his life after college as an entrepreneur, I am immensely proud to be one of the organisers and part of the mentorship programme. I am extremely impressed with the quality and diversity of submissions,” said Yousuf AlMulla, Co-founder E11 Global.
Out of 5,600 start-ups listed on the platform, 30 percent of MENA start-ups are based in the UAE. The nationwide competition was launched to complement the SME landscape in the country as well as support tech-startups and the creation of innovative business models in the UAE.
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