Saturday, 04 December 2021 02:34 GMT

Students' innovative minds 'shine' at Hult Prize Jordan Competition


(MENAFN- Jordan Times) AMMAN — Thirty six teams from various Jordanian universities took part in the Hult Prize national competition held on May 4-5 at King Hussein Business Park, hoping to seize $150,000 in seed funding for their innovative projects in the field of energy.

The world's largest student competition and crowd-sourcing platform for the creation of new social businesses, the Hult Prize launched the national challenge in various countries across the globe, aiming to 'leverage in-country university students to solve global challenges with a dedicated local accelerator and a prize to be awarded to the winning startup', according to a Hult Prize statement sent to The Jordan Times.

'Throughout these two days, we have witnessed incredible talents who presented a wide array of innovative solutions to instill change in millions of lives by 2025 through harnessing the power of energy, which was announced as this year's challenge by former US president Bill Clinton ' Mohammed Sammour, head of campuses at Hult Prize Jordan told The Jordan Times.

Solutions in the fields of connectivity, education, health, mobility, water or agriculture were presented to a jury of 12 experts in the field of energy, businessmen and corporate representatives, who assessed the students' idea's potential to develop into a viable startup fostering sustainable change.

"What makes the Hult Prize really different is that we look for early-stage entrepreneurs; any student with an idea can apply and take a place in this journey. By time, and after the training and the networking events, those teams can improve their ideas and start building them as real startups,' Sammour said.

Team Plutonium, which was selected as one of the seven finalists in the second day of the competition, displayed an invention allowing the production of electrical power from the flow of water in pipelines while Team S-Toilet developed a tech-solution for public bathrooms to improve health while reducing cost of sanitation.

"It is the solution that will change people's lives and perspectives towards public facilities, especially bathrooms," said Jordanian student Sinan Abderrahim Assaid, who came up with the idea, adding "S-Toilet is a bathroom that works like a vending machine to be installed in crowded public areas such as malls and companies. With its smart sensors that assess the bathroom's cleanliness levels, S-Toilet will nudge the user's behaviour and help keep the bathroom clean".

'We are living in a time where economic disparities between the rich and the poor are greater than ever… in a world where war and conflict are the standard not the exception. While we have advanced technologically as a society and global interconnectivity has made us more empathetic — we have collectively failed to rise up and take action against these global atrocities even though we are more equipped today than any other generation before us to solve them,' said Ahmad Ashkar, Hult Prize CEO.

'Today is not the beginning, today is not the end. Today is a dynamic change to the future," he said in his opening speech, calling all participants to "be a generation of change" by focusing on ideas rather than financial statuses.

Other finalists included Netsia, University of Jordan's SEE, Supermind from the Hashemite University, Eco-Friendly, 4 Wheels, and Here for Heat, according to Sammour.

The winning team, Here for Heat was awarded the $150,000 prize to further develop their pharmaceutical heating formula, which already had them selected as one of the six best teams in the regional finals held in Melbourne, Sydney, in March.

'The idea behind our project was to serve the health sector in producing a safe pharmaceutical formula that generates thermal energy inside the human body in order to combat cold weather and increase the feeling of warmth,' pharmacy student at the University of Petra Ramah Abu Safieh told The Jordan Times, noting that the formula is made 'only from natural plant extractions and is alcohol free'.

The four-member team is now preparing for the intensive start-up accelerator training held at the UK Ashbridge Castle along with 49 other teams from around the globe. They also hope to become one of the six international teams to be selected to attend the global finals held at the UN headquarters in New York, where they will compete for the $1 million prize to be handed out by Bill Clinton as a capital investment for their innovation.

"We are so proud of what we have accomplished and we are even fuller of enthusiasm for the next stages of the competition," said Abu Safieh, after her and her teammates Shaden Thwieb, Duha Ghazi and Murad Balqar were awarded the prize.

The competition was organised with the support of Zain Jordan, FMO Dutch Development Bank, Blombank Lebanon and the United Nations, according to Sammour.

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