In Wharton Innovation Competition, Seeking Solutions for Middle Eastern Challenges

article_2964Matching up blood donors, energy conservation software and a low-cost method to provide potable water in Yemen; the finalist proposals of the Wharton-HCT Innovation Tournament in Abu Dhabi this month spanned a range of social issues in the Middle East, from civil planning concerns to expanding support for charitable causes.

This year’s competition received over 200 applications from around the region. After hearing a day of presentations, Wharton expertsKarl Ulrich and Bulent Gultekin, among a panel of local business and academic leaders, decided to award first place to “DiaLife,” a proposed diabetes management solution designed to meet the needs of regional diabetic patients and their caregivers, using the Internet and interactive tools.

For his work, Amine Bounoughaz, an engineering student from Algeria, was awarded 30,000 Dh (US$8,100). It was a poignant victory for Bounoughaz, who began his presentation with his own story: his grandfather had passed away from diabetes, his parents were Stage 1 diabetics, and he himself was at high risk to develop the disease.

His personal experiences led him to develop DiaLife, Bounoughaz explained. “I dedicate this win to my family, to my friend and the co-founder of DiaLife, who has diabetes, and to anyone who has diabetes in the Middle East,” he said. “We want to make their lives easier and better.”

Bounoughaz said the prize money would be reinvested in the startup. “The best thing is that it comes with no strings, we don’t have to give any equity away for it,” he said

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Published May 14, 2013 in Arabic Knowledge@Wharton