● In partnership with Agility, MBC Hope, Zain Innovation Campus (ZINC), Zain, and GCC Services
● Finalists participated in a 3-day MIT Bootcamp training, administered by MIT experts who prepared the finalists to the final round of judging
● Winners will benefit from equity-free cash prizes, long-term mentorship program, and networking opportunities with MITEF’s partners and community
Innovate for Refugees Competition (IFR) is a global competition for the best tech-driven solutions addressing the challenges faced by refugees across the globe. Launched on ‘World Refugee Day’ three years ago, IFR had been at the forefront of the efforts alleviating the plight for many refugees in the world.
This year’s edition of Innovate For Refugees received applications from over 50 countries from around the world, highlighting the competition’s popularity, and the universality of the issue at hand.
Over the past 3 days, Innovate For Refugees finalists received an intensive training.
This year, judges chose 10 finalists, 5 for each track:
Before the final award ceremony, the finalists took part in an intensive 3-day training program conducted by the MIT Bootcamps. The training program is conducted by MIT-trained coaches and focused on the fundamentals of starting a new venture, problem specification, customer mapping, business model, pitching, all supported by hands-on coaching.
The first part of the day featured the graduation of the first cohort of the MIT ReACT Certificate Program part of the MIT ReACT Hub, an initiative that was launched in May 2017 to offer quality education to displaced individuals all over the world.. MIT Enterprise Forum Pan-Arab Region is ReACT’s inaugural Seed Partner.
The final award ceremony also featured a keynote address by Prof. Sanjay Sarma, VP of Open Learning at MIT, in addition to a panel focused on a sustainable solution to the educational gap created by forceful displacement: "The future of work is changing dramatically. Automation is affecting our jobs. But which ones? Automation will take the jobs that automation can take. We should do the jobs that automation can't take. The skills will change over time. What we have to do is to constantly move and innovate."
Moreover, there was a discussion panel featuring speakers from Edraak, Zain Jordan, MIT Refugee Action Hub, and Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education مؤسسة عبد الله الغرير للتعليم. The panel highlighted the challenges related to education that displaced communities face on a daily basis. The panelists deliberated over what had already been done to tackle this global issue, and what is still needed to fully resolve issues like illiteracy, access to information, and technological inclusion.
The winners will each receive a cash prize of $40,000 among other in-kind benefits like training, long-term mentorship, and networking. The winner of the Startup Track is team Shiffer (Iraq), and the winner of the ‘Ideas Track are both ‘Engineering For Social Good (USA) and KwikPak Shelter (Lebanon).
Commenting on the announcement, Hala Fadel, Chair of the board of MITEF Pan Arab said: “Today, with the use of technology, we have the opportunity to provide displaced communities with a decent education. Innovate for Refugees and ReACT are not just about creating technological advancements; they are part of a global movement aiming to change the reality for millions of refugees around the world. Our bet is on education’s ability to create a safe space for refugees to express themselves, learn, and realize their potential. We, at MITEF Pan Arab, believe that knowledge, and the drive to pursue it, are key to the progression of societies regardless of where they come from.”
In addition, Henadi Al-Saleh, Agility Chairperson, said: “The participants in this year’s IFR competition are truly brilliant innovators. When given the right capabilities and tools to develop their ideas, young adults can come up with impressive, practical tech-driven solutions. Executives from both Agility and GCC SERVICES have also participated in IFR’s mentorship program, by sharing their experience and expertise to the teams and guiding them along with their innovative projects. Our support alongside Agility affiliate, GCC SERVICES is our way of encouraging youth empowerment.”
Rashad Sinokrot, Chief Executive Officer of GCC SERVICES, said: “This is the second year I’ve judged the IFR competition, and it’s wonderful to witness the innovative ideas and concepts that these young people come up with. Participating in the IFR gives me the opportunity to play a role in youth empowerment initiatives that support refugees and every year, we see more and more new innovations that can enhance the lives of refugees, as this program was designed to do.”
Zain’s Rasha Barkat, Chief Innovation and Human Capital Officer, said: "Zain Jordan is proud to partner with MIT enterprise Pan Arab Forum for the third year in a row, we also would like to congratulate the winners for their innovative and disruptive ideas / startups that tackle the challenges that refugees face across the Arab countries."
Furthermore, “MBC Hope is glad to partner with the MITEF Competition with the objective to attract tech-driven solutions in order to help address the massive refugee crisis,” said Mazen Hayek, MBC Group’s Official Spokesman. “Our common goal is to identify, assess and reward the most innovative ideas and tech-driven solutions capable of addressing life-threatening challenges faced by refugees nowadays,” Hayek concluded.
With this final award ceremony, the ‘Innovate For Refugees’ competition concluded its third edition.
Stay tuned for future updates and announcements: #CrackTheCrisis