Entrepreneurial innovation is recognised by Fikra awards
April 27 2013 11:00 PM

Officials and dignitaries with members of some of the winning teams above and below.

In partnership with MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Pan Arab Region, Enterprise Qatar (EQ) and Silatech have announced the winners of the 2013 Al Fikra Qatar National Business Plan competition. This year, the Al Fikra finals took place concurrently with the finals of the MITEF Arab Startup Competition.

On Thursday, teams from both Al Fikra and MITEF Pan Arab Region made their final pitches before a jury panel headed by Dr Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali al-Thani, culminating in the announcement of the winners and the awards ceremony.

The event was held under the patronage and in the presence of Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, member of the EQ board and chair of the EQ executive committee. Al Fikra, managed by EQ and now in its third year, is co-organised by Silatech and SILA Angel Investment Network. This year, it has been sponsored by QNB, ExxonMobil and Sasol.

While cash prizes have been awarded to the Al Fikra winners, the victorious teams will also receive assistance in terms of business incubation and professional development in the near future. These will be in the form of managerial and technical advisory services from EQ.

The winners of the Al Fikra competition in the professional category were QPAY by Nebil Ben Aissa and Sheikh Mohamed bin Jabor al-Thani (technology sector-payment processing); EduTechnoz by Diana al-Dajane (education); and RAWE by Abdulrahman al-Ishaq, Dr Jassim al-Abdullah and Ahmed al-Farsi (art & entertainment).

In the students’ category, the winners were The Zone by Adnan Sayed (technology/e-sports); Looms & Knots by Haya al-Kubaisi and Rafay Abbasi (manufacturing & design); and Al Malaf by Mashael al-Misnad and Fatima Fikree (technology).

The top honours in the MITEF competition went to Instabug from Egypt and Darebni TV from Jordan. There was a tie - between Gallery Al Sharq from Jordan and The Homepage from Egypt - for the third place.

A special award was also given for the best female idea. The winner came from Al Fikra, Diana al-Dajane, with her idea EduTechnoz (Jordan).

“EQ is delighted to offer warm congratulations to the winners of Al Fikra and MITEF Pan Arab Region,” said Noora al-Mannai, CEO of Enterprise Qatar. “The competition may be over until next year, but EQ is always here to help sustain the momentum towards a healthy local ecosystem for successful enterprise.”

MITEF, chair Hala Fadel said: “The entrepreneurs have brought incredibly high levels of energy and enthusiasm and developed their ideas over the course of four days. We are confident that they will inspire their peers and friends to give thought to their own startup ideas. We hope that a dozen startups here will attract funding and be able to begin operating as companies.”

Silatech CEO Dr Tarik M Yousef said: “Such events serve to help aspiring entrepreneurs focus on the mechanics of planning a successful enterprise and inspire other young people to pursue their dreams.”

QNB general manager (corporate banking) Abdulla Mubarak al-Khalifa said: “In order to prove our continuing support, we will liaise with Enterprise Qatar to stay in touch with this year’s winners and help them facilitate the necessary funding to start their own business with QNB.”

ExxonMobil Qatar president and general manager Bart Cahir said: “Competitions such as the Al Fikra Business Plan Competition highlight and unleash the skill and potential of individuals who can contribute in an exceptional way.”

Marjo Louw, president of Sasol Qatar, said: “The strength of the business plans from all competitors gives confidence to a diverse and thriving SME sector in Qatar, adding to the benefits of doing business here.”

Al Fikra enjoys the support and partnership of six locally based academic institutions, led by Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar and including Qatar University, the College of North Atlantic - Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar, the Virginia Commonwealth University -Qatar and the Stenden University - Qatar.

Prof Ilker Baybars, dean of Carnegie Mellon Qatar, said: “Not only has this been an exceptional professional development opportunity for the participants, but it also significantly boosts the entrepreneurial culture in Qatar and the region.”

The key markers

* The number of initial entrants for both Al Fikra and MITEF competitions was an impressive 13,000 entrepreneurs from various Arab countries.

* The MITEF Arab Startup Competition, which targets the entire Arab region, brought 150 entrepreneurs (30 teams) to Qatar to compete for the prestigious award.

* The various rounds of Al Fikra since the competition opened in January had whittled down 127 applications to 21 semi-finalist teams comprising 40 top local entrepreneurs.

* Between the two competitions, finally, more than 400 entrepreneurs were selected to gather in Doha for an intensive four-day series of events, including expert insights, workshops and networking opportunities.



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