KAUST partners with the Ministry of Hajj, Umrah, SWCC and SAEI for ideation challenge

KAUST hosted 90+ innovators from various universities around the Kingdom for the 3-day Ignite challenge.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) hosted an ideation challenge in partnership with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) and Saudi Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI). More than 90 students participated in the three-day KAUST Ignite event from February 10-12, 2022.

Designed to push the limits of innovation and creative thinking, KAUST Ignite challenges students to take on some of the biggest regional and global issues — issues they and the world face every single day. Armed with their own entrepreneurial thinking, education experience, and passion for problem-solving, teams work towards cutting-edge solutions. At the end of the three-day event, each team shared its divergent thinking processes, with an emphasis on next steps, goals, and the positive impact their solution could have on the world.

Teams of Ignite participants were challenged to use their training and brainstorming sessions to produce a 5-minute presentation in front of the judges.

“Each KAUST Ignite event starts with a simple question: how do we spark solutions that can change the world? We are very fortunate to have partners the Ministry of Hajj, SAEI and SWCC to design key challenges and provide mentorship opportunities,” said Hattan Ahmed, Director of the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center. “Seeing the level of innovation that can emerge in just a few days is inspiring, and gives us all great hope for the future.”

The KAUST Ignite initiative challenged students to take on some of the biggest regional and global issues.

The 94 students came from over 18 Saudi universities and were also graduates from KAUST’s newest online course, Entrepreneurship Adventures. Participants were assigned to teams of five based on their individual skills and academic backgrounds. Once grouped, teams were given real-world challenges presented by KAUST Ignite partners representing water, aviation, and the Hajj experience. The challenges and winning teams were:

  • Reimagining the food experience in holy sites, to ensure a better quality of service, greater availability, and improved nutritional needs presented by the Ministry of Hajj. The winning team was “Biscuit,” a biodegradable and recyclable utensil package.
  • Improving desalination through optimization of alternative energy sources and addressing the impact of jellyfish on freshwater production presented by SWCC. The winning team was “Mangrove,” a jellyfish trap which allows for relocation.
  • Enhancing technologies to improve wildlife detection and curb bird strikes, presented by SAEI. The winning team was “Future Seekers,” a solution that uses radio frequency fields to disrupt birds at aviation sites.

KAUST continues to advance innovation and nurture an entrepreneurial ecosystem to drive economic transformation in Saudi Arabia. Over 24,000 young innovators have graduated from KAUST’s ideation programs and 325 startups from their accelerator programs. These programs work to address national climate, food, and energy challenges to benefit both the Kingdom and the world with a more sustainable future.

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