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startAD reveals winners of its Youth Entrepreneurship Program during virtual showcase event

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April 22, 2020, 10:25 am

startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and powered by its partner Tamkeen, has today announced the winners of its Youth Entrepreneurship Program. The three-month program, which initially kicked off during UAE Innovation Week, supports university students between the ages of 18-25 to advance tech-enabled startup projects.

The winners were selected following the presentation of 17 ventures to an esteemed judging panel in an online, public showcase event this week. Three projects were recognized and rewarded with cash prizes worth USD 5,000. SolarGridX, a platform that allows individuals to own and earn ROI through solar panels, won first prize of USD 3,000. Finllect, a financial literacy app, was awarded second prize worth USD 1,500. BestBy, an e-commerce platform that fights food waste by monitoring and providing sellers and customers access to food items close to best-by dates at discounted prices, won third prize worth USD 500. Lastly, EdTech startup, Jagged, was nominated for Sandooq Al Watan’s National Impact Award.

Minister of Climate Change and Environment His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi said: “The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) is proud to support the startAD Youth Entrepreneurship Program for the third consecutive year. Over the past two editions, we have seen some very impressive projects that have reinforced our belief in our youth as our hope for a better tomorrow.”

He added: “startAD shares the Ministry’s objectives of engaging young people in identifying pioneering solutions to the most pressing challenges of today, and helping them translate their innovative ideas into reality. In addition, it invests in budding national talent in line with the vision of the wise UAE leadership. We value the commitment of NYUAD and all partners of this initiative to nurturing sustainability-focused entrepreneurship in the country.”

A total of 67 youth entrepreneurs from eight universities across the UAE advanced tech-enabled startup projects ranging from innovative EdTech platforms and wearable devices to aid children with autism, to a creative, tech-enabled hardware tool to teach DNA sequencing and a tokenized solar energy investment platform.

Acting Director General of Sandooq Al Watan His Excellency Ahmed Mahmoud Fikri said: “We at Sandooq Al Watan are very proud to support the Youth Entrepreneurship Program of startAD. We are also proud of the progress made by the young entrepreneurs over the past 10 weeks, especially as they adapt to a new way of collaborating remotely. Our National Impact Awards aims at supporting Emirati entrepreneurs in developing and growing their technology startups and we are happy to announce the award nominee, Jagged.”

He added: “The United Arab Emirates is investing heavily in talents and future technologies that will empower a knowledge-based economy, as envisioned by our leadership. We at Sandooq Al Watan firmly believe in the important role of innovative startups in fulfilling this vision and always strive to achieve our UAE national priorities through investments and capacity building programs that aim to support and empower entrepreneurs to innovators to participate in the development of our future.”

startAD Managing Director and NYUAD Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ramesh Jagannathan said: “Congratulations to the well-deserved winners of this year’s Youth Entrepreneurship Program. Entrepreneurial disruption is now more essential than ever before as the world undergoes the duress of tackling a global pandemic, technology disruptors will rise to play a critical innovator role as we look to the future and its inevitable economic upturn. Aligned with the UAE vision 2071, our mission at startAD will continue to be, and always has been, to support early-stage startup ventures by acting as a catalyst to disrupt industries that contribute to the growth of the local economy.”

He added: “We are honoured by the continued patronage of our esteemed partners such as the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), as well as the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), ADNEC, and Sandooq Al Watan, who are providing tangible opportunities for our participants to make regional and global impact.”

Founding team member of SolarGridX, Hardik Bhatia commented: “It’s been a rich and rewarding experience to work alongside early-stage entrepreneurs as we each develop our own startup concepts. Over the past two and a half months, we have been able to engage with a diverse range of viewpoints that have informed our business strategies and our technological innovation for the development of our product. We will continue these connections and these learnings as we move forward from this program.”

Over the last three years, more than 150 young entrepreneurs have incubated their projects at startAD. The program trains the teams to develop entrepreneurial skills and processes, apply them to their startup projects, matches teams with expert mentors, and also offers teams opportunities to drive partnerships with leading institutions. This year, the program received over 200 applications and accepted 17 high-quality teams from eight universities in the UAE, 18 percent of which were founded by UAE Nationals. Alumni from previous editions of the program include Cycled Technologies, a smart-bin that melded cutting-edge artificial intelligence with mobile technology to promote recycling; Airborne, an app that offered advanced indoor navigation technology for people of determination; and Bactowatt, a project which focused on the conversion of waste water into electricity.

This edition of the program was in association with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), Sandooq Al Watan, eedama, UAE University, Manipal University, and the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

For more information on the program, visit

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