GITEX Future Stars’ Supernova Challenge 2019 awards ‘Key2enable’ top prize of US$100,000

UAE-based startup hits the jackpot as GITEX Future Star draws to an end; ten other winners from around the world take home US$10,000 each

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE):  Key2enable, an innovative startup that caters to people of determination with solutions that help them communicate and integrate into everyday life, has been announced as the winner of the 2019 GITEX Future Stars’ Supernova Challenge – bagging the top prize of USD$100,000.

After a judging panel shortlisted the most innovative startups from out of 400 entries from 29 countries, the final day of GITEX Future Stars, the region’s most electric startup event, saw 35 game-changing startups from across the globe battle it out for the region’s biggest prize, competing in 11 different categories, including the coveted Supernova Champion.

After a highly competitive round of pitching which took place on-site at Dubai World Trade Centre on 6-7 October, the Key2enable team was declared as the ultimate winner, and named Supernova Champion. Specialising in digital accessibility, Key2enable is aimed at providing autonomy to people of determination, particularly people with motor and intellectual disabilities, through their revolutionary solutions and applications.

Jose Rubinger, Co-founder and CCO at Key2enable was ecstatic at winning, and said, “Participating in, and winning, the Supernova Challenge is such a fantastic experience. It rewards our technology that helps people of determination. Winning this is really going to help us create something much bigger here in the MENA region. The GITEX Future Stars show is amazing as it brings so many people together from many countries here in the best city in the world, Dubai.”

This year’s exhilarating edition of the Challenge introduced three new categories – Best Environmental Impact, Best International, and Best Gen-Z startups – alongside returning categories Supernova Champion, Emirati Startup, Social Impact Startup, GCC & MENA Startup, Ai Startup, Scaleup Startup, International Startup, Youth, and Female-led Startup.

Adaptive Seat Belt-Based Safety System (ASBBSS) from the UAE was awarded the title of the Best Emirati Startup, winning the prize of US$10,000. The solution comprises an intelligent retractor system-based design, which utilises belt webbing during high-speed crashes to save lives. 

Pure Harvest, a regional innovator in sustainable agriculture focused on the production of greenhouse fruits and vegetables in the challenging climates of the region, was named as the Best GCC & MENA Startup, while Alberts, the world’s first smoothie vending machine that prepares fresh, personalised smoothies on the spot using 100% natural ingredients: fruit, veggies and water, bagged the title of the Best International Startup. Both were awarded prize money of US$10,000.

Sky Kurtz, CEO at Pure Harvest Smart Farms from the UAE, said, “The award is very validating. It’s been a hard journey, but to build a company with this much capital and taking a problem of this scale that hasn’t happened before, it’s always hard. The event is a great forum to put us all at a global stage. The entrepreneurship ecosystem is maturing very quickly here. To draw international capital wins like Careem puts us all on the global map, and that’s the opportunity that exists here. It is a big market and there is a lot of talent here, which GITEX helps in bringing to the forefront.”

 Other winners were:

  • Best Social Impact Startup: Co.Ltd, specialising in developing prosthetic hands using affordable technologies 
  • Best Environmental Impact Startup: Asel Tech, won for its Pipeline Leak Detection Systems
  • Best AI Startup: Chiniki Guard, a human activity recognition service providing real-time update by analysing a video feed
  • Best Scaleup: Chatdesk, a customer-service innovation aimed at increasing customer happiness, growing sales, and scaling up demand
  • Best Youth Startup: Smartsound Corporation, specialising in Smart Health technology using core Sound Processing technology
  • Best Female Led Startup: Furnwish, a technology company specializing in developing tools and solutions for the furniture industry
  • Best Gen-Z Startup: SHERO, an innovative device that pairs location and self-protection intended to protect its wearer in situations of assault

Reham Elmasry, CEO, Furnwish Corp. of Furnwish from Egypt, said,“We saw a lot of incredible pitches so it is amazing to know that we were one of the winners, it’s unbelievable! There are so many opportunities available here, and we are definitely going to be coming back next year. The advice and feedback provided by the judges is very insightful because it’s important to understand what investors look at and ensure that you are moving in the right direction before you invest further.”

Ricardo Luz, Board Member at European Business Angel Network from Portugal, said, “Entrepreneurs, and add to that investors, make GITEX Future Stars an ideal platform for startups. Entrepreneurs ought to believe in themselves; believe that they can make a difference in the world, the passion to do and the resilience to implement; ups-and-downs are meant to happen, but you keep going.”  

Being part of the judging panel, Rana Gurjal, CEO at Behavioral Signa, said, “I was a judge previously, and that led to some really exciting investment opportunities that we are still engaged with. GITEX is an ideal platform to support startups. Dubai has an international location where different nationalities are presented across the entire region – almost representing two thirds of humanity. There is a lot of advice for people venturing into launching their own startup. You have to get your basics right; you have to really understand the dynamics and the fundamentals of the business model; understand your strengths and weaknesses; and do most of your homework before you pursue fundraising opportunities.”

Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre, organisers of GITEX Technology Week and GITEX Future Stars, said, “As in the past year, the Supernova Challenge has turned out to be a life-changing platform for our participating startups. We have received hundreds of entrants and shortlisted only 35 finalists, who were bold enough to put themselves forward to be scrutinised by our expert judging panel. It gives us immense pride to be at the start of these magical journeys, and joy in contributing to some potentially amazing futures.”

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