Canadian University Dubai students secure AED 10K backing for innovation to tackle food waste


Young entrepreneurs pitch to investors at Global Entrepreneurship Week Final

November 20th, 2023 | Dubai, United Arab Emirates: A team of students from Canadian University Dubai (CUD) has secured AED 10,000 backing for their innovation, which aims to promote responsible consumption and reduce food waste. The award was made during the Finale of the University’s program of events for Global Entrepreneurship Week, which saw ten teams pitch their innovations to a panel of industry experts, investors and established entrepreneurs.

Known as Byte, the winning innovation builds on existing artificial intelligence technology to deliver a smart solution to meal planning. It aims to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) targeted at food security and responsible consumption. The project pitch was delivered by second year Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security student, Ralph Sengco, representing a cross-disciplinary team that also included business students Hanna Gajol and Rachelle Hombria.

Explaining the inspiration behind the project, Sengco said, “The idea came from my own experience of mealtimes as a busy student, thinking about what to cook based on what is in the fridge, keeping in mind product expiry dates, and the need to create something quick, delicious and nutritious. The technology we have developed offers a one-stop solution that creates recipes tailored to the ingredients available, as well as other criteria based on the user’s preferences. It also takes account of dietary requirements and food allergies and intolerances.” 

The innovation was awarded first place in the business pitch competition, which was judged by an esteemed panel of industry professionals that included, Mr. Rashid Al Awadh, CEO of E3M Consultancy; Mr. Hussein Wehbe, Founder and CEO of Plug MENA; Mr. Jihad Tayara CEO of Evoteq; Mr. Camille Beyrouthy, Co-Founder of The Business Hub; Ms. Nicki Wilson, Founder of Genie Recruitment; Mr. Mohamed Hilal, CEO of Mohamed Hilal Group; and Mr. Fahad Al Zaai, Innovation Specialist at Intelak Hub. The prize of AED 10,000 was sponsored by The Business Hub and all finalists were given the opportunity to explore crowd funding for their idea through the DubaiNext platform. 

Among the other innovations commended by the judging panel was CogniLink, a tool that combines psychology and technology to empower people with autism. Also recognized in the top three places was F.R.A.C.T.U.R.E, a first response device to deploy medical attention to casualties in hot climates. Other UN SDGs tackled through the projects shortlisted include sustainability, health and well-being, education, climate action and tackling inequality.

Speaking about the importance of enterprise education, Dr. Leonardo Mataruna, Professor of Sports Management at CUD and mentor of the winning team, said, “Our courses in entrepreneurship and innovation provide students with a fantastic opportunity to bring their creative ideas to life. Through competitions like this they are challenged to develop and adapt their ideas in the context of enterprise theory and practice, which provides them with the foundations to develop an entrepreneurial mindset so they can ultimately contribute to the UAE’s vision as a hub for sustainable innovation.”

The pitch competition was the culmination of an afternoon of activities staged by the University’s School of Management and hosted by Dean, Dr. Dima Jamali, and Assistant Professor, Dr. Kiran Tangri.  In her opening speech, Dean Jamali welcomed everyone to CUD, encouraging participants to “embark on a session dedicated to the spirit of innovation, the power of bold ideas, and the nurturing of entrepreneurship in education, which is the hallmark of this great university.”

The event also featured a keynote address from Mr. Rashid Al Awadhi and inspirational message from Mr. Ayman Yaman, Entrepreneur, Content Creator and CUD Brand Ambassador. The day concluded with a tour of an exhibition featuring other innovations developed by students from across the university to mark Global Entrepreneurship Week.