On June 24, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab and partners announced the 6 winners of the 13th edition of MIT Enterprise Forum’s Arab Startup Competition. 53 semifinalist teams from 15 countries faced the judges of experts and investors remotely, where the founders had to pitch their businesses and highlight various elements like their business model, digital transformation capabilities, resiliency measures, and team culture.
Before facing the judges remotely, all semifinalist teams received an intensive training program that was organized and executed in close collaboration with the team at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The remotely-held training offered an opportunity for the semifinalist teams to meet each other and realize their own resiliency towards adverse situations.
The training sessions covered topics such as digital transformation and ways that startups could adapt to changes in the market, as well as design for adaptability and long-term mitigation. Also, participants gained immensely from the candid conversations held with the mentors and trainers, who dedicated their time to answer all the semifinalists’ questions and provided practical examples to simplify complex ideas.
Afterward, all semifinalist teams pitched to a different set of judges, depending on track and relevancy. The judges reviewed each application beforehand and asked founders, about fundraising, growth strategies, exit strategies, and more. Also, the judges evaluated the startups based on MIT Enterprise Forum’s long-standing judging criteria: team, innovation, scalability, and financial sustainability. Among the judges was Mr. Hussein Jameel, Director at Community Jameel.
After the remote pitches, the judges deliberated internally and carefully discussed each application’s potential to grow.
The Virtual Conference & Awards Ceremony marks a new turning point, especially being MITEF Pan Arab’s first fully-digital conference. The virtual event created unforeseen challenges to the organizers and endless opportunities to experiment and innovate.
The organizers ensured that attendees would benefit from a digitally-immersive experience that closely emulates attending a real-life event. The virtual conference was attended by 400 attendees from 40 countries globally, who have all come to network, connect, and learn from the world’s most renowned tech speakers.
The agenda included two keynote speakers and a discussion panel:
- Keynote: Michael Schrage, Research Fellow with MIT Sloan’s Initiative on the Digital Economy, ‘Going Beyond Remote: How The Next ‘AI’ Transforms Entrepreneurial Performance
- Keynote: Alberto Levy, International MBA Professor at IE Business School and an Innovation Evangelist, ‘Black Swan events and VUCA: What it Means for Startups’
- Discussion Panel ‘Disruption as Usual’ brought Mohammed Al Sehli (CEO of Wethaq Capital), Maan Eshgi (Partner at VentureSouq), Abdulrahman Al Jiffry (Accelerator Manager at KAUST Entrepreneurship Center), and Amal Dokhan (CEO of Global Entrepreneurship Network Saudi)
The conference culminated with the announcement of the 6 winners, each going home with a monetary prize and endless opportunities for growth. MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab is excited to add a new cohort of innovators and brilliant entrepreneurs to its global network of alumni (MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab’s directory of alumni could be viewed here)
The winners of the 13th edition of MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition are:
Winner: Tawazon (Palestine)
1st Runner Up: telp (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
Winner: Draw It (Jordan)
1st Runner Up: Infrastic (Lebanon)
Winner: ENTALEQ (Egypt)
1st Runner Up: EAZYTRON (Syria)
Commenting on the announcement of the winners, Hala Fadel (Chair at MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab) said: “We are thrilled to have 53 semifinalists from 15 different countries join our growing community of startup founders globally. The impact that our MITEF Pan Arab alumni have been creating is incredible: 15,500 jobs in the technology sector, with average investment tickets reaching $420,000 upon graduation. The MENA region is abundant with leaders with the potential to change the course of what we once knew as ‘business as usual’. This year’s edition is particularly special within the ongoing global health crisis, which gave everyone a wakeup call that we all need to work hard together towards achieving sustainable change across the board. Our hope is that Arab innovative minds will be the main driving force of problem-solving and digital transformation. We are grateful to the many partners who supported this initiative.”
Also, Hussein Jameel, Director, Community Jameel stated: “For 13 years, we have been meeting with our partners in this event and we are determined to continue the path, hoping to achieve all that is best for the future of our communities as the core mission of Community Jameel.”
He added: “The participants of this competition are a perfect example of the inspiration, ambition and excellence that we seek to establish and achieve in order to become a culture rooted in youth and talents in the Arab world. We should be grateful for such events that provide all support in order to transform the ideas of future entrepreneurs into a tangible reality by providing a real and integrated business environment that ensures the graduation of generations of entrepreneurs who are able to innovate and create within a competitive business landscape.”
Additionally, KAUST President Tony Chan said: “We are proud to partner with MIT Enterprise Forum again to support entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to thrive, especially during these challenging times. Congratulations to all of the participants and winners from this year.”
MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab had previously published the second edition of their annual Impact Report titled ‘Arab Entrepreneurship Maturity Index: Insights & Forecasts’, in partnership with Roland Berger.
With this, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab wraps up yet another successful Arab Startup Competition, alongside its partners that have long believed in the impact and importance of such initiatives in actively enabling the Arab entrepreneurship and digital technology ecosystem.
MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab thanks, once again, all its partners as follows: Main Partner Community Jameel, Innovation Partner King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Digital Partner Zain Group, Acceleration Partner Flat6Labs, and Knowledge Partner Roland Berger.
Stay tuned for future news and announcements #ASC2020 #MITEFArab