Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced on Tuesday, April 30th, the top three winners of the 4th Dubai Smartpreneur Competition during the closing ceremony of the Enterprise Agility Forum 2019 in Dubai.
Denarii Cash, a mobile application helping overseas workers to send money claimed the first place prize. Arabee, a high specification platform providing an online multi-format Arabic language programme came in second, while xpence, a digital-only intelligent business bank account designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs placed third.
The annual competition, organised under Dubai Startup Hub in cooperation with Smart Dubai, aims to empower entrepreneurs and facilitate their contribution towards Dubai’s smart city vision.
H.E. Majid Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry presented the winners with their prizes in the presence of business leaders and representatives from Dubai’s entrepreneurial community. The announcements came after the top 10 finalists made their final pitch to an expert panel of judges.
H.E. Al Ghurair noted that the fourth cycle of the Dubai Smartpreneur competition saw a 217% surge in the number of international submissions compared to the previous cycle. Apart from the UAE, the competition attracted smart business concepts related to blockchain, artificial intelligence and digital transformation from 19 countries in 2019, up from 6 countries in 2018, reflecting Dubai’s increasing attractiveness as an innovation hub and preferred market for international startups.
HE Al Ghurair stressed the significance of the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition as a platform for startups to develop and test out smart solutions and business concepts, which he described as one of the most successful initiatives of Dubai Startup Hub. He explained that the competition falls in line with Dubai Chamber’s comprehensive strategy that aims to nurture and develop Dubai’s entrepreneurial eco-system.
“Over 1,600 smart business ideas have been submitted to Dubai Smartprenuer competition since its launch, and we continue to see positive changes as the quality and calibre of applications and participants increases with every new cycle. The benefits of participating in this unique programme go far beyond the recognition of winning, and extend to the training, development, mentorship, practical tips and rewarding experience that comes along with the pitching process,” said H.E. Al Ghurair.
For her part, Smart Dubai’s Director General H.E. Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, said: “As the government entity tasked with spearheading and guiding Dubai’s transformation into a full-fledged and world-leading smart city, Smart Dubai is consistently looking to harness the potential of advanced technologies in the form of feasible, on-the-ground applications that benefit the community at large.”
“The Smartpreneur competition is an ideal platform to do just that; it brings to the fore game-changing breakthroughs from innovative entrepreneurs, and rewards the most ambitious and implementable among them,” H.E. Dr Aisha added. “We are honoured to be joining forces with the Dubai Chamber, which reflects our commitment to working with all possible partners across the government and private sectors to realise Dubai’s ambitions, in line with the directives of the emirate’s wise leadership.”
Jon Edward Santillan, of Denarii Cash said the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition provided his startup with an opportunity to collaborate with other entrepreneur’s in the UAE, network and building strong relationships which can be useful for mutual guidance and referrals. He noted that Denarii Cash plans to change the way expats in the UAE send money and handle expenses in their home countries, adding that the app is designed to simplify people’s everyday lives by utilising blockchain technology.
Ferakh Lakhany, Co-founder of Arabee said the training and support offered during the competition was very useful in preparing pitches to potential investors and building new partnerships. He added that Arabee aims to become a preferred Arabic language solution in UAE schools.
For his part, Saad Ansari, Co-founder and CEO of Xpence said: “Our ambition is to be a global neobank for entrepreneurs. The UAE presents one of the best places in the region to launch Xpence and very soon Xpence will be available for entrepreneurs and startups across the Gulf.”
Sharing his tips for prospective applicants to the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition, Ansari stressed the importance of honing pitching and presentation skills, aligning business concepts with judging criteria and seeking valuable support of Dubai Startup Hub throughout the process.
More than 250 smart business ideas were submitted in the fourth cycle of the competition which fell under the categories of blockchain, artificial intelligence and digital transformation. A total of 50 submissions were initially shortlisted before the top 10 finalists were selected.
Launched as an initiative of Dubai Chamber in 2016, Dubai Startup Hub is an interactive platform that connects startups, entrepreneurs, developers, venture capitalists and students, enabling them to learn about new opportunities and create new partnerships that stimulate economic growth.