Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), the regulatory body for Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), the integrated free zone technology park, has concluded the second edition of ‘The Entrepreneur Day’ business plan competition at its Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre (DTEC), the largest of its kind in the Middle East region.
The Entrepreneur Day, which witnessed 300 attendees and 60 exhibiting start-ups, provided an ideal networking opportunity for entrepreneurs focusing on technology products or solutions to meet investors and ecosystem players. The competition invited emerging entrepreneurs to share their start-up proposals, prototype products and business plans.
Welcoming the entrepreneurs and experts to The Entrepreneur Day 2015, Dr. Mohammed Alzarooni, Vice Chairman and CEO at DSOA, said: “At Dubai Silicon Oasis, we are committed to achieving the UAE’s vision of supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups through enhancing their contribution to the country’s GDP and ultimately to the growth of the national economy. Last year, we unveiled a survey in conjunction with Google to identify the key challenges faced by technology start-ups and business entrepreneurs in the region. We have used the survey’s findings to help identify solutions to the challenges that start-ups and entrepreneurs in this region are facing and provide them with the necessary support to see their dreams come alive.”
Dr. Alzarooni added: “We are confident that through initiatives such as DTEC, we will expand our core mandate and continue to offer young and talented minds a fertile ground to harness their ideas and see them achieve fruition. We are proud that more than 300 start-ups and 400 entrepreneurs from over 50 countries have chosen DTEC as their incubational preference to launch their innovative ideas and promising start-ups.”
Eight shortlisted applicants had the opportunity to pitch their business plans to a live audience and judging panel on Wednesday, December 9. The winning entrepreneurs included: Noongam for “Best Islamic Economy Start-up”, JustMop for “Best Smart City Start-up” and 360MEA for “Best Travel Tech Start-up”. Hani Ghaith, winner of the grand “DTEC Start-up of the Year” prize, received USD10,000 in cash as well as a free trade licence, flexi-desk space within DTEC and incubational support for the start-up, Noongam. JustMop and 360MEA walked away with a cash prize of USD2,000 each.
Furthermore, the three winners will be nominated for access to IBM enterprise-class cloud platforms and services in the value up to USD24,000 per year. IBM’s Cloud platforms are designed to empower companies to innovate rapidly by providing a full suite of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a service (PaaS) offerings.
On winning the top prize, Hani Ghaith, Co-founder of Noongam said: “I am deeply thankful to DSOA for the opportunity to participate in this stimulating competition. I also appreciate the expert judges and general public for their insight and ability to gauge the potential of Noongam to grow. My team and I will take full advantage of the prize pack we have been handed today. We plan to use some of the funds to rent additional desk space at DTEC and set it up for IT programing purposes. This will immensely support the higher traffic we are beginning to see and further smoothen and simplify our customers’ interaction.”
In addition to the competition the day also included a packed agenda of speakers and panels. Rod O’Shea, EMEA Regional Director, IOT & UK General Manager for Intel Corporation provided the opening keynote on The Internet of Things as a Disruptive Force. The afternoon’s keynote say Ahmed El Alfi, Founder, and Partner of Sawari Venture Partners speaking on Investing in Innovation.
The day also featured two panels, the first a Travel Tech panel featuring Sanjay Sharma, Head of Innovation for Emirates, Aftab Sayed, Director of E-Commerce & Digital Services at Marriott International MENA and Vineet Budki, Founder & CEO of Guidoo World.
The second panel focused on Start-up Success and included Magnus Olsson, Co-Founder of Careem, Omar Kassim, CEO and Founder of JadoPado, Sarah Jones, Founder of Mini Exchange and Karl Naim, Co-founder & Managing Director at ChefXchange.
A wholly-owned entity of the government of Dubai, DSO operates as a free zone technology park for large enterprises, medium and small companies looking to set up their offices in Dubai.