The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) and startAD at NYU Abu Dhabi celebrate a successful end to the inaugural YouthTech Competition, a part of the Abu Dhabi Inspires programme, with a virtual closing ceremony this week.
The ceremony was chaired by Anteneh Zeleke, Youth Entrepreneurship Programs Lead, and included keynote speeches by Samar Al Mansoori, ADEK Acting Executive Director of Higher Education Sector, Eng. Majid Al Shamsi, ADEK Higher Education Business Development Division Director and 42 Abu Dhabi Project Lead, Professor Ramesh Jagannathan, Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at NYU Abu Dhabi and Managing Director of startAD. The ceremony also included influential members of the UAE’s entrepreneurial community, keen to hear from the finalists first-hand as they presented their winning projects.
The competition has seen 173 successful participants, aged 18-29 years old from across the UAE, engage in a two-day bootcamp, during which they received training and mentorship on ideation, virtual customer discovery, sustainability, rapid prototyping and presentation skills. Following the bootcamp, participants engaged in a four-week challenge-based learning program which provided mentorship and training to develop critical, future-ready entrepreneurship and innovation skills enabling the teams to build a business from the ground-up. The program has helped selected participants develop tech-enabled solutions to globally critical issues across four focus areas: education, the economy, society and infrastructure. After a multi-phased evaluation process, five outstanding projects with a creative solution, committed team and demonstrable potential to scale to an impactful startup venture, were celebrated at the ceremony receiving recognition from UAE business leaders and cash prizes of up to AED 8,000.
The five winning projects presented some remarkable solutions which explored issues faced both in the UAE and globally, made even more impressive by the short timeframe in which the teams had to explore their ideas and shape their start-up business. PinPoint, the first place winner, examined the challenges of social distancing and provided an innovative solution utilizing a deep learning model that processes footage from CCTV cameras to report live-data on how many people might be in a public space, such as a shop, providing real-time capacity updates. The objective of the data insights allow for informed marketing, advertising, movement and crowd control decisions by industry and government entities.
Second-place winner, Odysy, aims to help students make informed decisions about their futures; while SmallWorld came in third-place to provide an innovative platform to increase long-term humanitarian engagement among high school students. The fourth-place winner, Rehla aims to reshape education for many and bridge the gap in discovery education worldwide through the click of a button; and finally Baytuki, the fifth-place winner providing a disruptive concept designed to empower, educate, and enable women through a digital tool for real estate investment.
... entrepreneurship is key, especially when it is coupled with tech-enabled solutions that aim to solve real-life problems and challengesSamar Al Mansoori, ADEK Acting Executive Director of Higher Education Sector
Samar Al Mansoori, ADEK Acting Executive Director of Higher Education Sector commented: “As we move towards a knowledge-based economy, entrepreneurship is key, especially when it is coupled with tech-enabled solutions that aim to solve real-life problems and challenges.To foster entrepreneurship, we joined forces with StartAD to launch the YouthTech Competition as part of the Abu Dhabi Inspires programme. a journey that brought us closer to the youth and fostered our belief in their great potential.”
“I would like to express my personal admiration of all the ambitious projects submitted, which have demonstrated our youth’s capabilities to reshape our world. We hope this competition has given our participants the platform to turn their promising projects into vital start-ups in line with our leadership’s goal for a diversified knowledge-based economy. We’re certain that these projects will help in transforming education, the economy, infrastructure, and society; and will touch on the lives of many.” said Eng.Majid Al Shamsi, ADEK Higher Education Business Development Division Director and 42 Abu Dhabi Project Lead.
According to the UN 2020 World Youth Report, 600 million jobs would be needed in the next 15 years to meet youth employment needs. The global pandemmic has made this a more urgent reality. Recent estimates show that in 2016 alone, social enterprises benefited 871 million people in nine countries in Europe and Central Asia, providing services and products worth €6 billion and creating employment, particularly among the most marginalized social groups. The YouthTech Competition trains the youth to be job creators as opposed to job seekers. We are inspired by their creative use of technology enterprises that are aligned with protecting the environment and society that they live in.
This is consistent with the emirate’s vision for a tech-enabled business ecosystem and a society that is inclusive, competitive, sustainable in the long term. Professor Ramesh Jagannathan, Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at NYU Abu Dhabi and Managing Director of startAD
Following the success of the YouthTech Competition, ADEK looks forward to announcing a series of challenges throughout 2020/21 which will continue to drive ADEKs vision and mandate to grow the youth talent and develop a culture of entrepreneurship throughout its education ecosystem.