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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Emirati entrepreneurs to pitch to investors in London after clinching Abu Dhabi competition

Medication reminder and phone security sticker top Pitch at the Palace contest

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

An app that reminds patients to take their medication and a programme that turns written text into Braille won an entrepreneurship competition in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday evening attended by more than 500 spectators.

Pitch at the Palace heard from 12 entrepreneurs that believed their inventions were worth of a place in the finals at St James's Palace.

The event at Emirates Palace was brought to the UAE this week by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, after a successful run in London last year. The intention is to bring bright inventors and mentors and investors together.

The designers of three winning inventions will now have the chance to pitch to those investors in this year's finals in front of The Queen on December 6 - and potentially gain access to the resources that could make their business a success.

The phone app Dawak targets the hundreds of thousands of people who are not taking their medicine properly, which costs millions of dollars in waste across the globe, said Mansour Al Kaabi.

The app aims to make people “never miss a pill again”.

“There are many ads in the market reminding people to take their medicine on time, but there is no auto-reminder," he said.

The app has been tested so far at the Al Ain Pharmacy chain, where customers downloaded it at the store itself and set it to remind the dosage and timing.

“We would like to parent with all of the pharmacies in the UAE and we want to talk to the finance and health ministers, because they will understand the power of Dawak in saving money and lives,” Mr Al Kaabi said.

The second winner was Brailleye, a mobile device that converts any text into Braille language by scanning it.

“For someone is visually impaired they have to ask strangers for help to do one simple task: reading. And that makes them feel they are a burden,” said Faraj Al Faraj, who pitched the idea.

“So get it and give it to someone who needs it,” he added.

He said a visually impaired friend was the inspiration for the application.

“He is a superhero and I just wanted to help someone like him to make his life easier," he said.

The first two winners were based on votes by the audiences who attended the event.

There was a third winner who was voted for via social media, known as the People’s Choice.

That went to Security Act, pitched by Khalfan Al Marashda.

The company developed a “bending sticker” that can be placed on to the front and back camera of a mobile phone, so the user can take it with them into a restricted or sensitive area.

“Allow me to ask one question: which is the most precious device in your hand?” said Mr Al Marashda to the audience.

“A person needs their mobile phone more than anything, but it has a camera that cannot be allowed in sensitive arenas like oil fields, military camps, and private weddings. The issue with that is you have to leave it behind."

The sticker would be provided at the entrance to those sites. Each sticker is connected to a mobile app monitored by security, allowing them to detect if anyone bends the sticker or removes it.

It could also be used to ensure goods had not be tampered with, he said.

“When we ship pieces from Louvre Paris to Louvre Abu Dhabi, how will we know that no one tampered with the container?" he told the audience.

Earlier this week the 12 contestants were put through a two-day boot camp designed to hone their skills.

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.

Prince Andrew said that those not selected for the finals, had the chance to find success.

“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," he said.

“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."

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.

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