12 Student Projects Compete in 5th Annual HCT Ibtikar Competition
Novel and diverse creations, such as infant care solutions, virtual education tools and cleaning drones were showcased when the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) hosted its 5th Annual HCT Ibtikar Competition, a student-focused business innovation competition, in partnership with Young Arab Leaders (YAL).
This year a total of 12 student projects, representing potential future startups, were on show for the Ibtikar competition, held under the theme of The Year of Distinction & Precedence – Moving Towards the Next 50.
Dr. Alex Zahavich, HCT Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Ayesha Abdullah, HCT Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Ayoub Kazim, HCT-Dubai campuses’ Executive Director, and Dr. Geoffrey Mills, HCT Executive Dean of Business, presided over the event. They were joined by the judging panel made up of members of Young Arab Leaders (YAL), Dr. Mazen Zein, Fady El Borno and Ghada Dulaim, and HCT faculty and staff.
The Ibtikar series are vitally important to HCT as they help create an entrepreneurial ecosystem among students. Ibtikar is therefore perfectly aligned with HCT’s strategy of graduating companies and entrepreneurs - nurturing young innovators who can start their companies, create jobs and have positive impacts on the UAE’s economy.
“The appeal of the Ibtikar business innovation competition is that it enables HCT students, from all academic divisions, to leverage their knowledge from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship course to devise new concepts and innovations which solve real-life problems,” Dr. Ayoub Kazim said.
The final Ibtikar competition results were:
- Innovation Gold Award: “Newbabies.ae” from the HCT-Dubai Women’s campus
- Innovation Silver Award: “SC Hawk” from the HCT-Sharjah Women’s campus
- Innovation Bronze Award: “Metaverse” from the HCT-Dubai Men’s campus
Dr. Alex Zahavich emphasized the competition’s role in revealing students’ skills to ideate and develop ideas that could become future startups. He said HCT has a clear entrepreneurial vision with its InnCuVation Spaces that are focused on directing students towards establishing their own startups and becoming entrepreneurs.
“At HCT we are all about the connection with industry. At HCT you get a credential but also walk away with a job opportunity, which is just as important as a credential,” he said.
Dr. Ayesha Abdullah gave a snapshot of HCT’s development of the Ibtikar competitions, and its creation of its unique entrepreneurial mindset.
“If we can get students to start businesses that hopefully become unicorns we will have made a huge impact in the economy of the UAE. This is what started the journey of entrepreneurship at HCT,” she said.
“The key was to shift the culture and mindset of the organization so that it can become more entrepreneurial,” she added.
The result was a students’ business plan competition evolved into Ibtikar and curriculum integration with a course offered to all students, Dr. Abdullah explained. “The goal of this whole exercise was to cultivate an experimental mindset, create a curiosity among students and faculty and build an environment that is constantly changing,” she said.
Dr Abdullah noted that the competition offered many distinct ideas and demonstrated growth of students’ awareness about innovative solutions and ideas needed by the market, which they can develop as private companies.
She stressed that in order to ensure the growth of an entrepreneurial eco-system, institutions needed to “operate a fighter jet pilot mindset” within a rapidly changing landscape so as to “anticipate what is coming and be agile enough to adapt”.
Dr. Geoffrey Mills, said “The purpose of HCT and these competitions is to ensure that our graduates are able to graduate with confidence and add value to the organizations they join,” he said.
The judging panel evaluated the 12 competing projects and selected three winners based on criteria, including suitability of commercialization of the innovations.
The Innovation Gold Award went to the “Newbabies.ae” project, by HCT-Dubai Women’s students Asma Marouf, Fatma Alawadhi, Fatma Ahli, Fatma Alblooshi, Samar Alsayegh and Shamsa Alajmani. It is a start-up offering a solution for parents to understand the needs of their babies, based on their crying. In addition to understanding the cry of a new-born, the product can also track the baby's routine, night wake ups, mood and location, time duration of the baby's sleep and temperature.
The Innovation Silver Award was presented to “SC Hawk” project by HCT-Sharjah Women’s students Shaikha Almatrooshi, Amal Alzahmi, Fatima Aljasmi, Meera Alshuweihi and Shaikha Alyassi.
SC Hawk, or “Safe Cleaning hawk drone”, is where the drone moves in the same way as a hawk, which has a strong recognition skill and can analyze the surroundings quickly and efficiently. The team designed a drone that will mitigate dust accumulation from high-positioned PV panels, such as streetlights. The drone’s other feature is that it will detect malfunctioning streetlights by scanning the barcode of the PV panel. This scan will then be sent to a specialist in the municipality, notifying them of the need for repair. The drone therefore aims to solve two problems in one go - cleaning and maintaining the streetlights.
The Innovation Bronze Award was given to “Metaverse” project by HCT-Dubai Men’s students Yousuf Alhafiz, Rashed Almarri, Abbas Alhawai, Ali Almaazmi and Mohammed Almarri.
The Metaverse project is touted as an educational game-changer, allowing students to interact with each other in a virtual reality learning world, rather than work individually. The vision for the project is to promote learning through technology and to strengthen and diversify education through immersive experiences. It will engage students in a new and unique platform, providing an opportunity to access live, virtual classrooms with other students from across the world.
Students in the Metaverse could be in the same class, collaborating virtually to discuss the subject content and work on projects, thus virtually experience first-hand learning with classmates who are thousands of kilometers apart. In addition, Metaverse can support hybrid learning, where students experience immersive learning individually, before or after the class, and then reconvene in the physical classroom to discuss and embed learning points.
The competition winners are given the opportunity to join the HCT Startup Development Program, hosted in the HCT InnCuVation Space, where they will benefit from boot camps, personalized mentorship, complimentary work spaces and access to specialized equipment.