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Challenge 22 is Seeking the Most Innovative Ideas from 10 Arab Countries

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After a successful first cycle, Challenge 22 is back for its second edition. Launched in 2015 by Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), Challenge 22 is an annual innovation award that aims to attract innovative ideas by entrepreneurs, scientists and pioneers from across the Arab world.

The award aims to showcase ideas that can contribute towards the hosting and organization of major events such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ in front of an audience of billions in 2022 and beyond, while building a sustainable, economically diverse future for the region.

Run from 27 September 2016 to 11 May 2017, this edition is launched with several strategic partners including the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan-Arab.

Challenge 22 "has enabled me to get materials I need, equipment I need, and to be able to hire some people to help me because one person cannot do everything. So it accelerated everything immeasurably," says Dr Khaled Saoud – a physics professor from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar and one of the winners from last year's cycle. 

Ideas with a good chance of success

This year, Challenge 22 aims to attract talents from ten Arab countries - Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates - with innovative solutions to the challenges facing major events, whether in Qatar, across the Arab world, or other regions of the world. This cycle covers four key fields: sustainability, health and safety, the Internet of things, and tourism experience.

As with the first cycle, the fields have been chosen carefully by the organizers. “We don’t want ideas that are difficult to implement,” explains Fatma Al-Nuaimi, Legacy Sr. Manager at Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, indicating that they had consulted with their tech team on the themes to make sure that the ideas submitted would fit well with the available infrastructure, which would in turn ensure that the ideas would have a good chance of success.

But more importantly, Al-Nuaimi was keen to highlight the rationale behind the award. At every past world cup event, host countries have always sought to engage their respective communities she said, adding that the upcoming world cup in Qatar represents “a good opportunity as a catalyst to push innovation.”

It’s about changing minds and the perception of the region she added; “we want to show the talent from the region.”

According to Hala Fadel, Chairman of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab region, “the Arab innovators community has been growing rapidly in the past few years. Challenge 22 came along at just the right time to give further momentum and direct it towards the biggest international event of its kind. This is a valuable opportunity for innovators in the region to showcase their ideas on a global scale, while also showing the world the abilities that exist in the Arab region.”

Check the timeline below for all the important milestones of the competition:

·       September 27 - Website open for applications submission

·       December 12 - Applications submission deadline

·       January 16 - Announcement of the semifinalists

·       April 17 - Announcement of the finalists

·       May 7-11 - Final Event in Qatar

 An increasing number of applications

At the time of the interview, the award has been able to attract over 1,500 submissions. Al-Nuaimi expects this number to double by the time the deadline for submissions is reached. Last year, they had managed to attract about 1,000 applications, meaning that at this rate, this cycle should have three times the amount of submissions.

Another observation that Al-Nuaimi highlighted on the evolution of the competition was that the chosen fields seem to be more balanced this year. Last year, submissions were skewed towards certain fields, whereas this year's submissions are fairly equally spread across all six fields.

The winning ideas in the second cycle of Challenge 22 will be awarded prizes of $15,000 each. They will also receive mentoring and guidance from leading scientists and researchers in the region. Those with the best ideas will receive up to $100,000 in grant funding to develop their ideas to proof of concept stage.

“They are bringing benefits to every part of this community – not only for football, but for other areas too. This is the impact the 2022 World Cup will bring to the region. Without Challenge 22 we could not have been here,” says Ali El Dous, a winner from last year’s cycle.

In partnership with the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab as well as the Qatar National Research Fund, Facebook and Wamda, Challenge 22 will be inviting all the finalist teams who would have received training and coaching from the day they got shortlisted to the Final Event taking place on May 7th-11th, 2017 in Qatar.

To stay up to date on the event be sure to follow the official hashtag #Challenge22

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