GEMS Innovation Awards 2020 Recognise Young Innovators after Virtual Showdown

Awards mark culmination of annual Global Innovation Challenge, which sees thousands of students develop solutions to world’s biggest problems

·         Winners selected from a shortlist of 150 young innovators, who pitched their ideas and inventions to a panel of industry leaders, experts and investors

·         Participants took part in a first-of-its-kind virtual bootcamp, gaining insights into various aspects of business and .entrepreneurship

 The final stages of this year’s Global Innovation Challenge (GIC), which culminated in the annual GEMS Innovation Awards on 21 May, were held in suitably ground-breaking fashion, with close to 4,000 attendees from the UAE, UK and Egypt. The award ceremony marked the end of a journey of an intensive virtual start-up accelerator involving 40 youth businesses – arguably the largest of its kind in the region.

Top teams and winners were awarded across various categories, including the Global Innovation Challenge, Noon Next Challenge, Xcelerator Programme and GIC People’s Choice award. The award ceremony, held online this year, followed three days of comprehensive virtual bootcamps, in which shortlisted student teams were mentored by top local and international business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Since its inception in 2018, GIC has brought together a total of 150,000 students, all applying their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge to produce high-impact solutions to a range of global problems and challenges, including disaster resilience, environment, energy, food, health, learning, security, prosperity, governance, space, shelter and water. Each year, shortlisted teams benefit from an in-depth training and mentorship programme that equips them with the necessary business and entrepreneurial skills to compete in a fast-evolving world.

Michael Gernon, Chief Education Innovation Officer at GEMS Education, said; “The GEMS Innovation Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate the incredible ingenuity, creativity and enterprise of the students involved in our annual Global Innovation Challenge. We have always worked to instil a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across all GEMS schools, and this is reflected in the amazing projects and solutions conceived by our students. This year’s winners will have the opportunity to be mentored by renowned business leaders and innovators from across the region – in line with our theme of ‘Transforming the Future… Now’. Through mentorship and guidance, these bright young minds will be able to take their innovations to greater heights, transforming ideas into real, scalable products and enterprises.”

As part of the GIC initiative, students are provided financial and non-financial support as well as mentoring opportunities to help them build customer- and growth-oriented business plans around their innovations. Shortlisted students are divided into junior and senior categories, with each student team going on to present their solutions to a carefully selected panel of judges.

2020 GEMS Innovation Award Winners

Three teams scooped the GIC Seniors category, including Food Ore from GEMS Modern Academy, who developed a smart growth platform that enables refugees to sustainably grow food anywhere under any climatic conditions; TeenB from The Cambridge High School, Abu Dhabi, who created an online service marketplace for teens to learn, express their creativity and earn money; and SIS Tech from GEMS Winchester School, Dubai, who developed a sensor-loaded smart irrigation system for homes to conserve water.

Winners of the GIC Juniors category included Health for Everyone from GEMS Wellington International School, Dubai, who put forward telehealth kiosks that provide basic, minimal cost healthcare access for blue-collar workers; Bilvard 360 from GEMS Our Own English High School, Dubai, who developed a system designed to save the lives of children left in vehicles using sensors to start air circulation and alert guardians; and BC Warriors from GEMS Al Barsha National School for Girls, who created an intelligent electronic patch that detects breast cancer affordably, conveniently and in reduced time.

The winning team of the Xcelerator Programme was Meraki Power from GEMS Modern Academy, whose innovative solution increases energy efficiency in homes by generating electricity from indoor and outdoor temperature differences.

Winners of the Noon Next Challenge included team NoonZ from The Cambridge High School, Abu Dhabi, who developed an online shopping extension for teens linked to parents’ accounts, with access to group discounts and cashback opportunities; as well as PackCycle, made up of students from GEMS New Millennium School, Al Khail and GEMS Wellington International School, whose solution was aimed at reducing the ecommerce footprint through the use of sustainable packaging, recollections and recycling.

Accelerator Programme

This was the first time in the region that an end-to-end accelerator programme was delivered virtually at this scale. Over 40 companies and teams, 150 individual participants and over 60 external mentors and experts participated in this year’s programme, which is designed to provide skills, knowledge and support aimed at evolving students from inventors to entrepreneurs.

Shortlisted students under the age of 14 were provided with training focused on topics including entrepreneurial mindset, design thinking, leadership, marketing and go-to-market strategies, business planning and pitching, as well as tools and resources for entrepreneurs. In addition to the above, shortlisted students aged 14 and above were also trained on the crucial legal aspects of running a business, such as copyright and company formation, as well as design thinking and customer research, IP protection and business model canvas.

Following rigorous training and participation in interactive sessions, students pitched their solutions to judges during special ‘Demo Days’, making use of prototypes powered by future-focused technologies such as 3D printing, robotics and nanotechnology to bring their products to life. Presenting teams also stood a chance to secure seed funding, industry mentorship, attendance at workshops and training sessions as well as opportunities to pitch to potential investors.

Judges and Experts

The judging panel included senior executives drawn from GEMS Education, noon, Al Tamimi & Company, BizWorld UAE, Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (DTEC), Higher Colleges of Technology and successful youth entrepreneurs.

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