Turn8 and Innovation360 search for Arabic innovation

In a two day hackathon sponsored by Turn8 seed accelerator and hosted by Innovation360, entrepreneurs pitched their ideas for Arabic content innovations. The event, held this past weekend at The Cribb in Dubai, marked the first time a hackathon focused purely on improving and expanding Arabic content.

“There is a huge shortage of Arabic content, despite the fact that native Arabic speakers represent about 4.5 percent of the global population,” said Kamal Hassan, president and chief excitement officer at Innovation 360. “Arabic content accounts for less than 1% of total global online content. If we want the UAE, and the Middle East in general, to become a knowledge economy, we need more Arabic content, and we need innovative solutions to develop and deliver it. “

Entrepreneurs presented undeveloped ideas to a group of programmers, businessmen and investors during the two-day event. During the hackathon they networked with possible technology partners, gained valuable insight from established entrepreneurs and created a more robust plan for their ideas. The participants then formed teams to support the best ideas, then they pitched again at the end of the day, and judges decided the winners.

The judges, who included Hassan, Tariq Syed a business consultant with Innovation 360 and Yousif Almutawa Chief information officer at DP World, were looking for ideas that enhanced digital content in media, on the web or in mobile applications. They searched for projects that focused on education and e-learning enhancements, social media or e-commerce solutions that targeted a worldwide Arabic-speaking audience.

The goal, says Hassan is to give viable and interesting ideas assistance with the biggest hurdle for technology entrepreneurs in Dubai.

“Funding is the biggest issue for tech startups in this region,” he said. “It’s getting better, but the investors here are very risk-adverse. That’s why programmes like TURN8 are so important. They validate the ideas that the entrepreneurs bring, and make them market and investment-ready.”

The two winners, Academy of Life, a platform for students in Arab countries to announce projects and find volunteers, and Desert Warriors, a mobile game platform that brings together the Arabic culture and zombies, are now pre-qualified for $30,000 in equity funding from Turn8.

Innovation360 is a global innovation management consultancy that helps private companies and public entities bridge the gap between innovation strategy and execution. They founded The Cribb, a workplace designed to help budding entrepreneurs build their business ideas. It is also where they host Turn8’s 120-day acceleration and seed funding programs along with events like the hackathon.