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Posted On: 21 April 2017 06:28 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:17 pm

Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2017 Emboldens Young Qatari Innovators

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Team WaCoMo, swept to victory at the Marsa Malaz, Kempinski in the Qatar finals of the 6th edition of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2017, a global technology competition that aims to deliver educational, entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for youth by acquiring critical skills.

The Event took place under patronage of the Ministry of transport and Communications (MOTC), and attended by Hassan Al-Hail, Advisor to the Minister of Transport & Communications, Reem Al Mansoori, Undersecretary Digital Society Sector Development, MOTC, as well as Dana Shell Smith, United States Ambassador to Qatar. Sponsored by Qatar Datamation Systems (QDS), Information and Communications Technology WLL (ICT) and EBLA Computer Consultancy, the competition this year ‘Celebrating 15 years of awesome’ provided a platform for young developers to showcase innovative, world-changing solutions to industry experts.

Qatar National Finals involved the participation of teams WaCoMo, and HIAme from Qatar University, Qfill from Qatar University & College of North Atlantic Qatar, and Team 4C from Carnegie Mellon University. These institutions have immensely contributed to the success of Imagine Cup in the past years enabling the country’s youth to develop their skills. All project submissions from the teams were in line with Ministry of Transport and Communications’ (MOTC) vision for ‘Smart Qatar’, a roadmap that revolves around full-utilization of innovative, IT based, most sophisticated technologies to facilitate Qatar's future growth.

Team WaCoMo from Qatar university took first place for their project WaCoMo, which was aimed at providing interactive visualization of the water consumption happening at different outlets in a property, eventually reducing wastage. This team will go on to meet the region’s top talent at the Imagine Cup MEA semi-finals in Lebanon in May, on a path to compete with the best young innovators in worldwide finals, in Seattle, Washington, for the coveted Imagine Cup trophy and a prize of $100,000.

Hassan Al-Hail, Advisor to the Minister of Transport & Communications said “The Ministry of Transport and Communication supports and prioritize innovation and entrepreneurship, and constantly engages with young innovators to provide them with access to business opportunities. The Digital Transformation that is underway in Qatar requires harnessing of capabilities and innovations of our youth to engage their knowledge and minds. I invite – leaders of the future, innovative thinkers, and young entrepreneurs – to familiarize with the Smart Qatar initiative that has been launched to achieve a digital and smart economy. We look forward to seeing innovative contribution from the youth and provide them with the necessary solutions and support; to drive the desired smart vision across all sectors.”

All finalist teams will also have the opportunity to be incubated by MOTC’s Digital Incubation Center (DIC). Prior to Imagine Cup, Microsoft also partnered with MOTC for a Code Camp during QITCOM 2017 in the effort to be working together towards boosting the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Qatar. Imagine Cup Qatar 2017 winner will get the opportunity to work together with DIC for MOTC’s Smart Qatar Program.

“Technology and innovation have an immense power to make a difference in our world, and Microsoft builds on this incredible ambition to support the youth of Qatar with flagship initiatives like Imagine Cup”, said Lana Khalaf, Acting Country Manager, Microsoft Qatar. “We are honored to be supported by Qatar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications, and our sponsors in hosting this year’s finals; to cultivate the spirit of entrepreneurialism in the youth of this country. The competition supports MOTC’s vision for ‘Smart Qatar’ and aligns with the pillars of Tasmu, empowering the next generation to create economic opportunities that contribute towards the country’s progression. Our heartiest congratulations to the winning team who will now head to the MEA finals”

Four finalists were shortlisted to compete this year in Qatar. Team WaCoMo included members Omran Adnan Alrashid Abazeed, Youssef Akram Al Hariri, Naram Sultan Mhaisen and their mentor Dr. Osama Halabi. Team 4C’s Ameera Tag, Shobiitaa Krishna, Ibrahim Soltan and their mentor Mohammed Al-Dousari’s project was focused on the Data Analysis of traffic movement for businesses in order to help them with advertisement of their goods in best possible time. Team Qfill which included members Azharul Islam, Amaan Sheikh, and Ihthisham Mohammed, developed an application for subscription-based fuel delivery service that will help the users order delivery, track location and monitor real-time status and other data of their vehicles; and team HIAme members Manel Fethi Ferjani, Sarah Al-Hussaini, Yasmine Barkallah and their mentor Fatma Al-Mansoori created a mobile application to enable people in long transits find suitable information or activities to do at the Hamad International Airport.

The team of judges for the Qatar finals to select the winners included Ms. Duha Al-Buhendi; Marketing and Entrepreneurs Engagement, MOTC’s Digital Incubation Center, Dr. Jaideep Srivastava, Chief Scientist, Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), Mashael Al-Hammadi, Employment Programs Director, Silatech Qatar, Abdul Salam Knio, Managing Partner, Information and Communication Technology W.L.L. (ICT W.L.L.) and Mohammad Alam; General Manager Qatar Datamation Systems (QDS).

This year, Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform was a mandatory tool for all the submitted projects. The requirement falls in line with Microsoft’s core ambition towards building the intelligent cloud and drive digital transformation for organizations to empower employees, engage customers, optimize operations and transform products or services.

Imagine Cup forms a pivotal part of Microsoft’s YouthSpark programme, a global CSR initiative launched in 2003, aimed at delivering opportunities for more than 300 million young people all around the world, and equipping them with free and discounted tools to explore the latest technologies that experts use every day.

With roadshows conducted in leading universities across Qatar including Qatar University (QU), Carnegie Mellon University(CMU), Texas A&M University and College of North Atlantic; the competition has reached over 250 students this year. The presentations, consultations and coaching nights created awareness among students and encouraged participation in the competition, with ideas to fuel the country’s vision for smart cities. Interested students were able to attend intensive training sessions to prepare for submission of ideas. The sessions covered contest rules and criteria, and informed competitors about the processes of conceptualisation, design, development and testing, which help lead to the most viable solutions.

Qatar as a country has had a strong participation in the Imagine Cup, on local, regional and global levels. Finalists from 2014 won the Pan Arab finals to represent the country in the worldwide finals. in partnership with key industry players such as Qatar Youth Hostels, Qatar Charity, Injaz, Silatech, RAF, QBIC as well as MOTC’s Digital Incubation Center (DIC); the competition has gained momentum over the past few years, and reflects Microsoft’s efforts towards enabling modernization through technology solutions in Qatar.