Qatar World Cup was a catalyst for the region's innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, participants highlighted at a panel discussion at the Host Country Media Centre Wednesday.
They noted that the Challenge 22, an innovation award launched in 2015 by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, promoted a culture of innovation in the Middle East and attracted several entrepreneurs, scientists and pioneers from across the Arab world.
The panelists were: Rola Fayyad, founder and CEO of Viavii; Stefano Fallaha, founder and CEO, Podeo; Mohammed al-Gammal, co-founder, SunPave; and Abdelrazek Aly, co-founder and CEO of Bonocle - all beneficiaries of Challenge 22 programme and successful entrepreneurs now.
Challenge 22 was a project to generate ideas that could contribute towards the hosting and organisation of major events like the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, while building a sustainable and economically diverse future for the region.
The panellists, who are from various countries in the Arab region, said that the initiatives, though faced several challenges in several phases, could be realised with the support received from various entities in Qatar. They also described the functions of their startups and how they were evolved to the present stage.
Fayyad said Viavii is reshaping the modern-day travel experience with an easy-to-use online platform. The AI-based technology allows users to create tailored and hyper-personalised travel plans, and enjoy cultural experiences with people from all over the world.
“My platform is one that connects the travellers. Several entities in the country helped me develop the platform and the funding from Qatar National Research Fund. Now we support over 70 local companies and hundreds of individuals. It could also lead to women empowerment as several women became part of the platform with various activities,” she noted.
According to Fallaha, Podeo is a podcast platform dedicated to managing, distributing and producing podcasts. He explained: “It operates Podeo Technologies, Podeo Studios and Podeo Network, which attract hundreds of thousands of monthly listeners, and it owns a catalogue of 80+ exclusive podcasts. Podeo is partnering with airlines, automotive manufacturers, radio stations and telecom companies to democratise podcast consumption in the Arab world.”
Al- Gammal described that SunPave is an effort to make use of the sunlight which is available in plenty in the region. "SunPave is a locally designed and researched walkable photovoltaic (PV) tile. Unlike other PV panels, the tiles harness solar energy from flat rooftops, walkways and pedestrian spaces with no impact on their primary use or purpose.” He also said that the PVs were used on Thumama Staduim.
Aly said that Bonocle is the first-ever entertainment platform in braille. “It provides visually impaired people with equal access to digital content, whether it be books, productivity apps, educational content or games – helping them to integrate in classrooms and workplaces,” he added.
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