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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Abu Dhabi's Hardware Venture Launchpad sets winning start-ups on their way

Event last week saw three innovations make it through to top the table

Nadiya-Keya Siddique of start-up Stealthy was a winner in the StartAD competition held at New York University in Abu Dhabi .  Pawan Singh / The National
Nadiya-Keya Siddique of start-up Stealthy was a winner in the StartAD competition held at New York University in Abu Dhabi . Pawan Singh / The National

A med-tech wearable jewel to measure vitamin D deficiency, a tracking device to enhance camel racing, and a sensor to open doors from a mobile have emerged as the winning prototypes of Abu Dhabi's Hardware Venture Launchpad programme by StartAD, the NYU Abu Dhabi and Tamkeen incubator.

Hardware Venture Launchpad is the first intensive 10-day programme designed to help startups rapidly mature into a scalable business within a short time span and last month culminating in a demo day where finalists showcased their start-ups to investors, corporate partners, media, and the UAE start-up community.

The three winning teams receive prototypes grants, US$120,000 in IBM Cloud credits, and get considered for advance mentoring by startAD. A fourth start-up, Project Realise, gets to take its prototype to Shenzen in China, a global manufacturing hub.

In first place at the Hardware Venture Launchpad event was the start-up Stealthy, created by its chief executive Nadiya-Keya Siddique. Some years ago Ms Siddique suffered an accident that taught her about her Vitamin D deficiency and all the health problems associated to it. Her prototype is a med-tech wearable, cognitive sensor to measure vitamin D and folic acid deficiencies during pregnancy. Seventy per cent of pregnant women suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, but it affects to 90 per cent of the GCC population. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to depression, osteoporosis and fertility problems, so Stealthy offers a med-tech wearable with an integrated sensor that looks like a piece of jewellery to ensure that owners achieve their vitamin D and folic acid targets, practice meditation and participate in community activities.

“We are going to produce here and our market is in the GCC. It is on the healthcare agenda and we want to prevent people and mothers having these problems,” Ms Siddique says.

At least 1.3 million women aged 18-40 years live in the GCC and 843,000 babies born every year in the region. Ms Siddique plans to move the prototype forward and perfect it in the lab before marketing it. “For the first batch we want to produce 100 to 150 units for testing and sell it through fertility clinics and mother and baby clinics.”

In second position at the Hardware Venture Launchpad event was Jamalytics, “the fitbit for camels”, as Saeed Al Nofeli, the chief executive of Maia Systems, described it when he presented the prototype for real-time data collection and analysis during camel races. Temperature, heart rate, speed, time and performance help to identify the best camels for racing, he says.

“There are 70,000 customers owning 160,000 camels,” he points out. His idea puts on the table the old school versus the new school. Traditionally, training 10 camels costs around Dh600,000 and usually results in just one being suitable for racing, so Jamalytics will be dramatically cut the cost by identifying the best specimens for racing without the in-depth training.

“We build the device, and then data is the next wave,” he says, to explain other possibilities for the device in the future. The basic tracker will cost Dh734, version Pro will be Dh2,000 for the device and Dh200 for subscription. “I come from Al Wathba, where the ecosystem [for tracking] exists,” he says to explain how he came by his idea for camel racing. “We have tracked soldiers, ships … you name it. Now we track camels”, he says.

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Maia Systems won the Khalifa Fund Ibtikari 2.0 and the Technopreneur Challenge before becoming a finalist at Pitch at the Palace in London and then at StartAD Venturepad Hardware. “I guess we are going to go to China and make things happen," says Mr Al Nofeli. "Hopefully, we can get [a] product out of it and people can get testing and we go to market. We are going to change the world.

"We have a projection of 20,000 devices for people to start using it. We are going now to the next stage, which is to get customer validation and give us feedback”, he says.

Third place at the Hardware Venture Launchpad went to Smado, a home automation start-up that combines Google API and Blueetooth to open and close home doors from a mobile phone. Midhu V Sankar and his co-founder designed a small, stick motor for the inside of a door, while the outside side remains unchanged. If the homeowner is absent and a cleaner needs access, for instance, the homeowner can send a code to the cleaner´s mobile to gain entry by unlocking the door via the motor.

“This small motor turns and works with a battery,” explains Mr Sankar. “It is the first time to design something in hardware and, seriously, we didn´t think in being in the final three,” he says. Mr Sankar believe Smado's market niche is in the United States, where at least half of the 125 million homes use smart doors. Smado wants to service 1 million: “The US people have a vision in helping new start-ups, they don´t need the product. If something goes wrong with the product in the GCC, they will sue us," Mr Sankar points out. "In the MENA region they need quality product.”

Project Realise, meanwhile, is a start-up that will go to Shenzen to build Protero 1.0. It is behind an electronic device that shreds plastic bottles and extrudes 3D printer filaments to generate more 3D filament, says Phillipus Vorster, the co-founder and CEO of Project Realise. “At university we have to pay for filament, and none of us can afford it," he says.

"At the same time, I wanted to make a difference because there is a tremendous amount of waste of plastic." The start-up intends to install the devices in the 32,600 educational institutions across the GCC to educate customers in a business that Mr Vorstar forecasts will grow to $10 billion in the next 10 years.