x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Emirati entrepreneurs pitch ideas to UK's Prince Andrew in Abu Dhabi

An indoor navigation system to find lost items and even guide the blind and a device for training camels were among the inventions unveiled at 'Pitch at the Palace' event at Khalifa University

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, hears ideas and inventions at the Pitch@Palace competition held at the Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi.  Pawan Singh / The National
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, hears ideas and inventions at the Pitch@Palace competition held at the Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National

An indoor navigation system to find lost items and even guide the blind and a device for training camels were among the inventions unveiled yesterday at a competition designed to give a greater profile to entrepreneurs.

Pitch at the Palace was brought to the UAE yesterday by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, after a successful run at St James's Palace in London.

The event at Emirates Palace got under way on Monday and saw entrepreneurs begin a two-day boot camp at to improve their pitches to potential investors and gain advice from seasoned business people.

It was co-organised with Khalifa Fund and contestants will present their final pitch in front of 500 people on Wednesday evening.

Two winners will be chosen to participate in the Pitch at the Palace - also known as - Pitch@Palace - before The Queen in London on December 6.

Twelve Emirati entrepreneurs gave their initial pitch to Prince Andrew and in front of other audience members on Monday.

Mustafa Al Hashimi detailed his indoor navigation platform and mobile application ‘Innav’, which he said it designed to help people trace lost properly in large indoor spaces.

He hopes it will have multiple applications, including to guide people who are visually impaired, and common day to day issues such as struggling to find your car.

“It is a nightmare when you park your car and you forget where it is... and we feel we are going to lose our children one day,” he told the audience.

The mobile application works using a Google Maps-type display to suggest possible routes around a building.

Users can also opt for voice guided navigation.

“The visually impaired could ask 'where is the washroom'… and it would guide them there," he said.

Saeed Al Noufali’s project, 'Jamal-check', gives camel owners and trainers the opportunity to follow up with a camel's performance through a mobile app.

A tracker fitted to the camel tracks its speed and other attributes and shows a display, allowing the trainer to compare them.

“Imagine you have ten camels and ten profiles," he said.

Prince Andrew said that the concept "adds value to entrepreneurs by finding and developing mentors for innovative businesses".

“I am a keen and regular visitor to the region and I have been keen to bring Pitch at the Palace to the Middle East, as I see synergies in our attitudes towards innovative businesses, especially with the young demographic of the region," he said.

When asked why he specifically chose the UAE to host the Middle East version of competition, he said: “That’s obvious, because it is one of the most innovative places in the region and also Sheikh Mohammed is a great friend of mine.”

Moreover, those who participate will not only become successful in the UAE and the region, but also regionally and globally, “so to bring them into our global network.”

Among the mentors to attend last year's final at St James's Palace was the World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee, businessman Peter Jones and Dragon's Den judge and triple-Michelin star chef Heston Blumenthal.

Prince Andrew said that even those that were not selected for the finals, had the chance to network and grow their business.

“I will make a request to the audience that every single one of them takes a follow up action with every one of you,” he told the contestants.

“Bring with you a lot of cards to connect with the hundreds of people attending on Wednesday evening.

“Do not be under any illusion that you are under our organisation now, that is not the point who gets selected to go to London, the point is we are here to support you.

“All of the projects I have seen definitely have got something that will make them a successful business; the challenges are actually whether they will survive and that they get the right business process engineering advice.

“Some may have potential in areas that they haven’t thought about but might take them globally. They are all very very good ideas but the question is at which level are they at their ideas?

"That is the matter of the discussions we are having today, tomorrow and the next day.”

The final pitches will be held at Emirates Palace on Wednesday.