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AUS hosts Young Entrepreneurs First Business Plan Competition for Sharakah schools
Potential young entrepreneurs had a chance to present innovative business plans to an international panel of judges and executives at the Young Entrepreneurs First Business Plan Competition held at American University of Sharjah (AUS) yesterday, March 16. Held under the university's Sharakah initiative, the competition provided a platform for the students of Sharakah schools to have an integrative learning experience, create new businesses, and consider entrepreneurship as their future careers.
Organized by the Office of Enrollment Management in collaboration with the AUS School of Business Administration, the event was open to students in grades 10-12 from all Sharakah partner schools. Approximately 50 senior students participated as part of nine teams representing the various schools. Though there were no restrictions on the topics for submission, contestants were encouraged to focus on technology and innovation-driven businesses such as nanotechnology, information technology, renewable energy, environment, healthcare, financial services, logistics and social enterprise, and transfer of knowledge.
All submissions were evaluated based on a 100-point scale by using a common judging form. Finalist teams were announced on February 25 and these teams advanced to the final competition. A workshop was organized on March 6 by the School of Business Administration to explain to contestants all the components and stages of the competition including presentation of the idea, developing a proper business plan, and how to promote their products and services.
Sharakah schools participating in the final round included Al Rawafed Private School, Liwa International School, The International School of Arts and Sciences, Sharjah American International School-Sharjah and Al Ma'arifa International Private School. The innovative projects included a smart sprinklers system that limits water wastage by detecting moisture in the sand; adjustable high heels that convert into flats providing comfort to women; a computer chip embedded below the skin to detect health issues; a medical electronic watch that helped people manage chronic illness; multi-usage transparent paint that protects painted objects and limits cleaning requirements; and solar powered golf carts, to name a few.
The event began with a trade show during which the finalist teams displayed their products and services. Winning the trade show and receiving an award of AED 5,000 was the team from Sharjah American International School-Sharjah.
Three parallel sessions were also held with five teams per session giving 10-minute presentations on their final projects. The winners of the Business Plan Competition were The International School of Arts and Sciences, first place; the Sharjah American International School-Sharjah, second place; and Liwa International School, third place. Members of the team in first place received laptops while the teams that placed second and third won smartphones.
Ali Shuhaimy, Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management at AUS, said, "The entrepreneurial nature of the business activities in the UAE inspired us to introduce the Sharakah Young Entrepreneurs First Business Plan Competition. This competition, we believe, is a good opportunity for students from Sharakah schools to simulate, understand challenges and activities associated with creating and developing new businesses in today's world. We hope it will also provide them with real life situations that will enrich their personal experience and help them reshape the way they look at their university studies."
"Being the role model of a third-generation university where innovation and entrepreneurship play a major role, AUS implements innovation and entrepreneurship programs in all of its disciplines," said Dr. Ali Beba, chair of the organizing committee. "We believe that programs such as this competition will help increase awareness of entrepreneurship in the UAE and provide educational support to convert innovative ideas into new products and services for the benefit of the society. This competition provided the young entrepreneurs of the UAE a chance to introduce their innovative business plans to an international panel of judges, investors and executives and allowed them to make a name for themselves within UAE."
The event was held as part of the Sharakah program, introduced in Fall 2011, under which AUS has signed Memorandums of Understanding with 12 secondary schools in the UAE. The agreement creates venues of cooperation between the university and the partners in various academic and non-academic areas. To facilitate the transition of high school students to university life, AUS engages school students and their teachers by organizing training sessions, workshops, and cultural, social and sporting activities. Under the umbrella of this program, the university also provides partial scholarships to deserving students from varied socio-cultural and economic backgrounds nominated by their respective schools.