September 2020



Five winners selected from the 15 finalists

ADEK will soon announce further tech challenges aimed at enabling the youth to shape their future.

 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.

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,” said Professor Ramesh Jagannathan, Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at NYU Abu Dhabi and Managing Director of startAD “The global pandemic 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.”

Following the success of the YouthTech Competition, ADEK looks forward to announcing a series of challenges in the future which will continue to drive ADEKs vision and mandate to grow the youth talent and develop a culture of entrepreneurship throughout its education ecosystem.

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About Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK)

The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) is the Education Sector regulator across the Emirate. It oversees and provides services throughout a learner’s journey from early education to university and beyond. It also champions inclusivity for People of Determination in the mainstream schooling system and by providing specialized schools.

Across Early Childhood and K-12, ADEK licenses and regulates nurseries and private schools in Abu Dhabi while also legislating, mandating and managing its own Charter Schools and 2 schools for People of Determination.

ADEK also annually provides distinguished Abu Dhabi students with full scholarships and support to study at the best universities around the world. In addition, the Department audits and enhances the delivery of Higher Education in Abu Dhabi, attracting Higher Education Institutions to open the required programs or schools that serve Abu Dhabi’s needs while championing a student and faculty-friendly ecosystem in the Emirate.

With a vision to Empower Education. Empower Minds. Empower the Future, ADEK recognizes that every learner is different, and a diversity of teaching methods are essential for students to succeed. To that effect, ADEK partners with stakeholders to enable a great education system to flourish in Abu Dhabi and nurture future-ready graduates who have the 21st century skills required to sustain and carry forward Abu Dhabi’s vision.

About startAD

startAD is an Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator steering seed-stage technology startups to launch, develop, and scale their ventures. Anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi and powered by its partner Tamkeen, the accelerator equips startups to pilot solutions with industry leaders, while enabling corporates to innovate with startups disrupting their core businesses.

startAD has the unique domain expertise and state-of-the-art facilities to develop startups with a focus on hardware and AI, as well as other solutions in priority industries including aviation, energy, sustainability, construction, and security. Enrolled startups benefit from startAD’s extensive range of programs and global network of investors, mentors, and experts, in addition to access to startAD’s seed fund for local startups. Since startAD’s launch in 2016, participating startups have raised USD 45 million in investment, generated USD 15 million in revenue, secured over 50 pilot projects with corporations, and created over 250 jobs.

About ‘Abu Dhabi Inspires’

Abu Dhabi Inspires is a programme of initiatives that transform adversity into opportunity.

Launched in order to drive forward innovative responses to current realities, Abu Dhabi Inspires will include initiatives that capture emerging opportunities, tap into new trends and have a positive impact on people now and into the future.

Three pillars define the focus of the programme, which is aimed at all sections of the community: Virtual Experiences, Constant Innovation and Community Solidarity.

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