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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Young inventors hope to win investment for innovative ideas through schools programme

Twelve school teams were involved in the Arab Innovation Centre for Education (AICE) Accelerator Programme demo day on Tuesday,with each team having 10 minutes to present their ideas to a panel made up of investors, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
Jyan Firas, 13, pitches her team’s idea for The Stellar, a solar-powered buggy designed to deliver food. Satish Kumar / The National
Jyan Firas, 13, pitches her team’s idea for The Stellar, a solar-powered buggy designed to deliver food. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Budding young inventors and entrepreneurs pitched schemes to a panel of judges on Tuesday hoping to attract investment to turn their ideas into reality.

Twelve school teams were involved in the Arab Innovation Centre for Education (AICE) Accelerator Programme demo day at Emirates Towers, organised by Gems Education.

Each team had 10 minutes to present their ideas to the panel, made up of investors, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

The winner will be awarded Dh10,000 and further mentoring to bring their invention to market.

Jyan Firas, 13, an Iraqi pupil at Gems National School in Al Barsha, pitched her team’s idea for The Stellar, a solar-powered buggy designed to deliver food.

“I was a little nervous before I got up to speak but it was a good experience,” she said. “We estimate the cost of developing the buggy will range from Dh50,000 to Dh100,000 and although that sounds a lot, it’s much cheaper than paying for drivers, and maintenance costs for normal cars are much more costly.”

Potential markets for the product include the United States, China and the UAE, where food deliveries are popular, she said.

Once an order is received by a restaurant on a smartphone app, staff can programme the buggy to go to the desired location and deliver the food.

The team is examining potential link-ups with UberEats and the online food delivery service Talabat.

Arjun Bhorkar, 15, from India, was representing Gems Millennium School, in Al Qusais, ­Dubai with his Aura wearable invention designed to help people with autism. The device has an Rfid reader that, once scanned over an object, plays a tutorial video showing how to do everything from opening a door to operate a washing machine.

“I was inspired to come up with this after doing voluntary work at the Manzil Centre in Sharjah,” he said.

There he saw the difficulties some of the autistic people faced with certain everyday tasks.

“The truth is that people with autism are just as capable as everyone else and they can become proficient through practice,” he said.

“If I win, I’ll work up a full device that could be sent to market and I initially think centres like Manzil will be interested in using it.”

The prototype uses a smartphone, but if extra funding is available, Arjun plans to develop an all-in-one device.

Other ideas included an infrared heat sensor that can be installed on school buses to alert authorities if a child has been left on board. This has already attracted interest from the Roads and Transport Authority.

Another was a specially designed school to make pupils with disabilities integrate fully with their able-bodied counterparts.

Michael Gernon, senior vice-president and global head of innovation, research and development at Gems Education, said the programme offered a great opportunity and environment for Gems students.

“The programme will provide our students with a unique platform, offering them the right mix of critical thinking, commercial knowledge and entrepreneurial enthusiasm.”

The awards ceremony will take place on May 8, during which the AICE winning team will be announced and given Dh10,000 and 12 months of continuous support from Gems Education and its partners to further develop their product.

nhanif@thenational.ae

Updated: April 25, 2017 04:00 AM

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