In December 2018, the UN Environment West Asia Office and UNIDO Investment and Technology Promotion Office in Bahrain launched the Innovate Green Competition, with sponsorship from the First Energy Bank B.S.C (c). The competition targeted university students in the Middle East and North Africa regions, and aimed at stimulating and unleashing entrepreneurship and innovation.
The main objective of the competition was to provide students with an opportunity to make a positive impact on society by addressing environmental issues through social and technological innovation, whilst contributing to their own economic benefit and ultimately supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
A total of 129 applications were received from 11 Arab states, out of which 107 were qualified to enter the competition. An evaluation committee was formed consisting of experts from UN Environment and UNIDO in Bahrain, that assessed how innovative the idea of each application was and looked into the viability of the presented business plan. After a rigorous evaluation process three winners were selected.
Under the Patronage of His Excellency Professor Riyad Hamzah, President of the University of Bahrain, the three winning projects were awarded today at a ceremony which was held at the university's premises.
The first-place winning innovation, Mushtich, comes from Lebanon. A team of three young university students have launched a project which offers bio-based material aiming to replace petroleum based plastic materials, such as Styrofoam, while offering the similar properties needed in protective packaging, thermal insulation, acoustic applications, water and fire tolerance. The material is 100% renewable, biodegradable and customizable. The team received the grand prize of $10,000 for their innovation.
The second-place winning innovation comes from Egypt, Backbenchers. A group of youngsters developed a concept which uses wood and plastic waste to develop a state-of-the-art wood-plastic composite with superior properties, that enables it to be utilized in various applications. The new material is a recycled translucent wood-plastic composite, with superior optical and mechanical properties. The sheets have a remarkable potential to be used in several industries ranging from construction to solar energy and can replace other plastic sheets, such as acrylic and polycarbonate sheets. The team received $7,000 for their environmental innovation.
The third-place award of $3,000 was given to Underwater, a project coming from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which puts forward a concept that uses an Underwater Compressed Air Energy Storage System (UCAES) for excess energy storage. The product prototype is a low-cost solution that is both environmentally friendly in how it is manufactured, as well as how it operates. The system works by pumping air into mounted underwater balloons where it can be stored and eventually released back to the surface to drive generators during times of increased energy demand.
During his opening remarks, the Regional Director of UN Environment West Asia Office highlighted the importance of supporting the young people of the Middle East and North Africa region, and investing in their innovations to achieve sustainable development and protecting the environment. Dimassi stressed the importance of private sector partnerships in the implementation of similar initiatives targeting young people in the region.
In his remarks, Dr. Hashim hailed the Arab innovators who participated, and expressed his appreciation to the caliber of innovations presented. He further stressed on the importance of impactful investments as we move towards sustainability for the future and achieving the SDGs and reiterated his firm commitment of UNIDO ITPO Bahrain and the Arab International Center for Entrepreneurship and Investment towards unleashing the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation across the MENA Region, while supporting such initiatives related to the area of green economy.
On behalf of First Energy Bank B.S.C (c) and its CEO, Mr. Mohamed Shukri Ghanem, Mr. Fawaz Al Jowder, Chief Operating Officer stated that the Bank expresses gratitude in sponsoring the Innovate Green Competition, which aims to stimulate innovation and creativity among university students in the Middle East and North Africa region.
"First Energy Bank is proud to sponsor such competitions, which are part of the Bank's corporate and social responsibility to promote technology and energy in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Middle East, where we all work for a promising future for the region and support sustainable development goals" said
Mr. Al Jowder.
Mr. Al Jowder added that "The desire to create and innovate makes us always present at such events. The positive outcome of sponsoring such events are in line with the Bank's constant drive to make a positive impact on society by addressing environmental issues through social innovation and our constant belief in supporting creative youth, especially that the Kingdom of Bahrain provides an ideal environment for promoting and accomplishing such honorable achievements." Finally, Mr. Al Jowder concluded by congratulating the winners and wishing success to all participants.
The awarding ceremony was followed by an open Q&A session which witnessed engaging dialogues between the winning teams and the young entrepreneurs from Bahrain who were attending the ceremony.
Source: National News Agency