(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Fazeena Saleem / The Peninsula
Doha: The innovation skills of young entrepreneurs have been recently showcased at the first Arab Innovation Academy (AIA). The unique 10-day startup boot-camp was organised by Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) in collaboration with the European Innovation Academy (EIA).
The programme provided more than 100 talented students and young entrepreneurs from across the Arab world with an opportunity to work under the guidance of leading Silicon Valley mentors and establish a start-up.
Under the guidance of leading global tech startup mentors, teams whose members had never met before were challenged to take an idea to a viable startup after just two intensive weeks of working together.
'The young tech entrepreneurs who have participated in the first Arab Innovation Academy care about our region. They are passionate about, and committed to, helping solve the challenges it faces, and they are now global ambassadors both for Qatar and for the Arab world - building bridges among communities and cultures, through innovation, said Dr Maher Hakim, Executive Director of QSTP.
'What we have achieved through AIA is to help young people build their confidence, not only in their ability to do things other people cannot do, but to demonstrate that they can make a positive contribution to our world, he added.
In a Grand Pitching Session at the end of the AIA, held on Thursday at the QSTP, participants live-pitched the startup ideas they had developed from scratch during the programme to investors and experts from around the world. Ten teams presented innovative projects.
The winner was AG Automation, a startup that aims to use technology to transform indoor farming.
'Arab Innovation Academy has been a great experience for me. I was able to learn many things as an innovator and entrepreneur. It helped me to become a global citizen as well as an innovator and entrepreneur. It is a great opportunity and Qatar is doing a great job by giving us this opportunity, Sinan Al Obaidi, CEO of AG Automation told The Peninsula. He is from Iraq and perusing his Ph.D in the United States under the sponsorship of Qatar Leadership Program.
Al Obaidi also said that AG Automation aims at shifting conventional farming to a complete industrial process.
Through the AIA, participating students from universities in Algeria, Lebanon, Oman, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, and Qatar had the opportunity to leverage an extensive global network of leading tech entrepreneurship experts, who introduced them to innovation tools and methods developed by leading universities and companies including University of California, Berkeley; Stanford University; Google; Amadeus IT Group; and QSTP, part of Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R & D). During the Grand Pitching Session, a group of five students from different countries studying in Qatar and Lebanon presented their project ‘Carryon' which uses the free space in travellers luggage to send packages worldwide.
The team included Pierre Wehbe and Hussein El Hajj from American University of Beirut; Ahmed Abdilmalik of Qatar University; Mohammad Jawad from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar and Hafis Bello from Hamad bin Khalifa University. 'The Arab Innovation Academy gave us the right guidance on how to change an idea into an actual business. It was an mind opening ten days for us; the whole programme was more practical than theoretical, they said.