October 1st, 2018: The first Falling Walls Lab in the Middle East was hosted by the Canadian University Dubai who were selected among 50 international locations to play host to the 2018 edition of the competition, Falling Walls is a global innovation challenge which aims to identify ground-breaking ideas and nurture high potential talent.
The Lab was created in 2014 as an initiative of the Falling Walls Foundation, a unique global platform established to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Foundation brings together leaders in the fields of science, business, politics, the arts and society to foster debate and promote innovation for the benefit of the global community.
Over 30 applicants submitted novel ideas on how to tackle global concerns such as cyber security, energy conservation and alleviating poverty. A total of 12 candidates were shortlisted to present.
Each entrant was required to deliver a three-minute presentation to a panel of judges, comprising Mr. Essa Alzaabi, Director, Entrepreneurship Department, Start Up Hub, Dubai Chamber; Ms. Andrae Owuh, MD, Start Up Grind, Dubai; Mr. Carlos Guevara, Partner, Sia Partners; Hanane Benkhallouk, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Sustain Leadership; and Mr. Medy Navani, Founder and Creative Director, Design Haus Medy.
Also in attendance at the event were Mr. Guenter Rauer, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany and Ms. Kate Starkey, Senior Trade Commissioner, Consulate General of Canada in Dubai together with CUD President, Pr. Karim Chelli.
The competition was won by Reem AlDhaheri, a chemical engineering student who has harnessed nanotechnology to develop a breakthrough technique which speeds up the healing of scar tissue when compared to more traditional methods.
Taking second place in the challenge was Sethi Sarthak with a smart control device for disabled people, while Chotalia Vrushabh took third place with his augmented reality approach to alternative transport.
Speaking after the event, judging panel member, Ms. Hanane Benkhallouk said, “It’s refreshing to see challenges like this that provide the creative space for young people to explore new ideas and to facilitate the learning by doing approach. As we know, the essential skills of the future are critical thinking, complex problem solving and leadership, and that is what we’ve seen here today. I commend Canadian University Dubai for providing this platform and hope to see more events of this kind in the future.”
On behalf of CUD, event organizer and University Incubator Coordinator, Elisabetta Lampedecchia, said, “Receiving so many applications from outside of the UAE clearly demonstrates that Dubai is viewed across the region as an excellent launch pad for innovative ideas. We now need to build on these foundations; to connect research, academia and enterprise to create a fully-integrated innovation ecosystem in the UAE, for the benefit of the entire region.”