Meet the 5 MENA Startups that won Dubai Expo Live with grants upto $100K for each one of them

Expo 2020 is without any doubt the most anticipated event of the region. When Dubai was awarded the six-month event, some estimates suggested that it will create more than 200,000 jobs in the country. It has already created a lot of jobs and a lot more created will be in the future. Expo 2020 Dubai has been taking different initiatives in the build-up of exposition and one of them is Expo Live.

“It is an innovation and partnership program launched by Expo 2020 Dubai to fund, accelerate, and promote creative solutions that improve lives while preserving our world. With an allocation of USD 100 million, Expo Live will deploy a combination of grants, challenge prizes and knowledge-sharing events focused on the universal driver of progress: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.”

Expo Live last month announced the 29 winners from the 575 responses they had received to their call for proposals. The 29 social innovation startups are from 22 countries including Ireland, Germany, Nepal, Rwanda & Brazil. Five of those startups are form MENA; 3 from UAE and 2 from Egypt. Each of these startups have won a grant of upto $100,000 with Expo Live not disclosing the exact amount. The selected startups may also get an opportunity to showcase their solutions at Expo 2020.

Smart Labour – UAE

Dubai-based Smart Labour has developed an app dedicated to the blue-collar workers in UAE that helps them improve their language skills, learn money management and develop their personality. All these courses have been designed keeping the audience in mind, they can learn English & Arabic in their own languages. The app also rewards these workers in form of data packs and talktime for progress in different courses so they could stay connected with their families back home. Smart Labour is not the only startup to target this normally ignored segment of the market. NOW Money is another startup that’s trying to solve one of the biggest problems of the blue collar workers in UAE & beyond.

International Center for Biosaline Agriculture – UAE

Established in 1999, Dubai-based International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) is a non-profit agricultural research center which develops agricultural production systems using marginal land and water resources which are available in desert environments.  They are currently working on development of different technologies including use of conventional and non-conventional water (saline, treated wastewater, industrial water, agricultural drainage, and seawater), water and land management and remote sensing and modeling for climate change adaptation.  ICBA will use the grant from Expo Live to support its development of inland coastal modular farms in UAE.

Ver2 Digital Medicine – UAE

Ver2 Digital Medicine is an eHealth Services Platform that is trying to solve healthcare’s biggest challenges using connectivity. The platform connects physicians with physicians to share expertise, medical faculty with learners to share knowledge, and medical data with caregivers to manage patient care delivery. Ver2 is trying to solve the problem of doctor shortage in Africa. Creating more doctors in traditional way of building and staffing medical schools using ancient teaching methods will not work. Ver2 plans to use the grant to support innovative ways of using connectivity so remote medial educators can teach in Africa and establish locally based train the trainer program to sustain and accelerate the process, CEO of the company Brian de Francesca explained.

Yomken.com – Egypt

Egypt-based Yomken.com is a social startup that offers innovative and low cost R&D solutions by connecting people who have challenges with an only community of innovators. They call themselves the crowdsolving platform. The challenges could range from product development to usage of alternative raw material. So about anything that could help the low-tech small and medium businesses. Apart from this matchmaking, Yomken.com also has a marketplace where innovators can post their innovative projects, patents and market researches so they can be linked with VCs, crowdfunding platforms and others for possible investment.

Tansport for Cairo – Egypt

Transport for Cairo is the first public transportation map for Cairo. Launched in 2015, it started as an idea to verify bus routes on an old World Bank map of the city from 2010. Transport for Cairo is trying to directly and indirectly improve public service transit provision. They are developing developing a public transit data-set for Cairo’s Public Transportation Network. The data-set will be in the GTFS (General Transit Feed Specifications) which is a common format public transportation geographic information and schedules.

Congratulations to all the winners and we hope that they’re able to make great use of the grants.

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