Startup Sharjah Hackathon equips 150 youth with business skills

September 19, 2022 / 2:26 PM
Sharjah 24: The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) has announced the top three winning teams in the Khorfakkan chapter of the Startup Sharjah hackathon that concluded yesterday at the University of Khorfakkan. The hakathon was in partnership with Crescent Enterprises and in collaboration with the University of Khorfakkan, Emirates Schools Establishment, and Sharjah Youth Council.
Held in September 16-18, this year’s edition of the hackathon saw the participation of over 150 youth, divided into 14 teams. The hackathon equipped school and university students with 21st century skill sets that helped them build solutions to real-world problems posed by the competition’s corporate partners. This year’s edition of the hackathon targeted the development of sustainable solutions in the ports and logistics services sectors.

Winning teams
The first place was won by the Octainer project, an advanced scanning technology that facilitates the digitalisation of the documentation process of port activities through the use of Near-field communication (NFC), a short-range wireless connectivity technology. Each container would have a smart tag attached to it containing all its data that will be read by the scanner attached to the crane at the port. With the automatic verification of the contents of the container,  the customs clearance process is smoother and quicker.

The second place went to Al Seef project, an integrated system that provides comprehensive solutions for stakeholders in port operations to manage information flow, and combat wastage of resources, avoid discrepancy in documentation, track prices and ships, and provide more accurate ETAs. The digital solutions presented by the team results in efficient management of information flow amongst all stakeholders, enables real-time tracking of shipping lines and trucks, offers transparency on prices, enhances documentation process with verification updates, and helps manage customer expectations.

The third place went to PortSecure project, a startup that offers ports access to its software based on a membership model. The software predicts inefficiencies in port activities and provides a new adapted Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that helps ports be faster and safer

The winning teams received cash prizes to support the development of their projects and real-life applications. The winners also received the opportunity to join Sheraa’s specialised programs for further development of the idea and possibly turning it to viable business. 

Spirit of Innovation  
Commenting on the success of the hackathon, Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, said: “The launch of our Startup Sharjah offering in Khorfakkan is testament to Sheraa’s commitment to making entrepreneurship an accessible and foundational skillset for the young entrepreneurial talent across Sharjah, and the UAE. With the support of our partners, we will continue to invest in the undeniable potential of our ambitious youth  to build sustainable solutions that address the challenges impacting lives worldwide.” 

She pointed out that the hackathon lays emphasis on the societal impact of a project, not just its commercial value, with the goal  of developing businesses that have a positive impact on the local community and the wider economy. The Sheraa CEO said the projects led by the competing teams at the Khorfakkan hackathon demonstrated a high level of understanding of the challenges and needs of the industry and the local and global communities.

Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises, said: “With no shortage of entrepreneurial talent in our region, our young problem solvers should be encouraged to take more calculated risks when creating solutions and embrace success or failure with the same dynamism. At Crescent Enterprises, youth empowerment and local entrepreneurship development are core elements of our corporate citizenship strategy. This is in line with the government of Sharjah’s efforts to create a conducive business environment that has enabled the emirate to become a prominent regional innovation hub and develop a thriving startup ecosystem.”

He added: “Crescent Enterprises is proud of its long-standing partnership with Sheraa, which continues to build an inclusive and sustainable entrepreneurial platform in the UAE and the wider region.”

For his part, Ahmed Al Shammaa, Director, University of Khorfakkan, said: “We are delighted with our collaboration with Sheraa, which aims to promote proactive thinking amongst the younger generation. Such immersive activities are critical for our university as they help achieve our vision and goals that  focus on advancing the intellectual, personal and professional skill sets of our students.”

He added: “The University of Khorfakkan is focused on building a strong foundation for our students through research and innovations to ensure that our graduates are capable of supporting Sharjah and the UAE’s journey towards building an internationally competitive knowledge-based economy.”

Six stages
Through the hackathon, participants were introduced to the design thinking process based on six stages: Understand, Observe, Point of View, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.

During the hackathon, representatives from Gulftainer, which operates the Sharjah Container Terminal, Khorfakkan Container Terminal, and Al Hamriyah Container Terminal, and Momentum Logistics, a fully integrated third-party logistics provider, delivered a presentation on the integral role of supply chains in the logistics industry, and outlined various operational aspects and administration of the Khorfakkan Port. After the presentation, participants brainstormed solutions to  transform the port’s operations to become more agile and sustainable.

Tim Haas, COO of Gulftainer, said: "Gulftainer is delighted to support the Khorfakkan chapter of the Startup Sharjah Hackathon which encourages innovation and instills a spirit of entrepreneurship among our future trailblazers. Our region is perfectly positioned as a global hub for logistics, and with ongoing education and mentorship, our young people will remain at the forefront of emerging technology, utilising it to develop solutions that address global supply chain challenges and support economic sustainability."

Competing teams of UAE youth created prototypes, building on the information shared during  the presentation and tested their ideas to ensure it could be implemented to achieve the set goals.

The decision to hold the hackathon in Khorfakkan comes in the wake of several integrated developments in the largest city in Sharjah's Eastern Region under the directives of the wise leadership, the latest being the University of Khorfakkan.
September 19, 2022 / 2:26 PM

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