, United Arab Emirates, 14 October 2022: Desolenator, a Dutch startup that develops solar powered water purification technology, was announced the winner of the Supernova Challenge at North Star, securing the top prize of $100,000, with 13 category winners each taking home $8,000 in prize money from the competition.
The Supernova Challenge is the biggest start-up pitch competition in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia and, with $200,000 in cash prizes, a major highlight of North Star. This year’s Supernova Challenge attracted over 600 applications from game-changing startups from over 41 countries, who battled it out for the region’s biggest prize and the coveted North Star Dubai Supernova Champion title.
26 finalists from countries including Brazil, Bahrain, USA, Romania South Korea, Canada, Latvia, France, Vietnam, Nigeria, Kenya and Oman pitched in front of a judging panel of global icons and tech influencers, including David Cohen (co-founder of Techstars), Mike Butcher (Editor-at-large at Techcrunch), Karim Konsowa (Associate, Dubai Future District Fund), O.G Arabian Prince (co-founder of N.W.A), Natalie Colby (Managing Partner of Norrsken22), and Susan Marie (EVP of Strategy, Arizona Commerce Authority).
Alexei Levene, co-founder of Desolenator, accepted the grand prize money of $100,000, saying: “Winning this incredible prize really demonstrates how sustainability – and the world’s water crisis in particular – is now front and centre of global and regional agendas. This award also highlights how Dubai, and the UAE are taking a leadership position on the most intractable sustainability issues facing the world. We are delighted to win the North Star Supernova challenge and this prize money will contribute towards our work to tackle the global water crisis around the world.”
The winner of the Top MENA Start-up Award was Galactech from Oman, an entertainment e-sports company. Galactech CEO Houcem Maiza said: “GITEX GLOBAL is the biggest tech event in the world – so this is an incredible showcase for our company – but winning best MENA start-up is particularly important to us as this is our market.”
One of the Supernova judges, David Cohen, CEO and Co-founder of Techstars, said North Star Dubai and the Supernova Challenge are now essential highlights on the international tech calendar. “I love the fact that so many companies from around the world are here in Dubai and that the quality has been consistently so high. It has been an honour to judge such an amazing set of companies and a lot of fun.”
Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President, Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre, said: “North Star Dubai and the Supernova Challenge offer a unique opportunity for international start-ups to take transformational steps in the growth journey. The Supernova Challenge continues to attract the leading innovators of the future, all of whom choose North Star Dubai as a platform for engaging with global investors and bringing their ideas to the Middle East region. The ideas showcased at North Star Dubai and the Supernova Challenge have the potential to make a significant impact on the digital economy.”
Oman Tech Fund Pitch Battle
At the Oman Technology Fund Pitch Battle, sponsored by Oman Technology Fund and the ITHCA Group, nine start-ups were selected from a shortlist of 30 finalists to win a total of up to $1 million in investments following their successful pitch to a panel of experts.
Three companies received investment cheques for $150,000 each. These were: online service provider Nashid; watercraft company Seavo and tele-therapy platform, SgharToon.
The companies each receiving investment cheques of $50,000 were: travel platform, Godoba; sports and recreation booking company Tamreen; peer-to-peer tutoring platform, Unitors; car spare parts platform, X Garage; 3D printing company, Binaa Express and real estate management company Mulk.
‘Move the World’ Innovation Cup
At the ‘Move the World’ Innovation Cup, sponsored by AHOY, three winners were selected by a jury of local, regional and international experts, investors and entrepreneurs to share credit worth $175,000. The Trailblazers’ Award was presented to CLROBUR from South Korea, the Future Innovators Award was won by Visual Camp also from South Korea and the Most Promising Start-up Team Award was presented to Biel Digital Glasses from Spain.
The Supernova Challenge category winners were:
- Overall Industry Pioneer Award in partnership with Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy: Biosolvit from Brazil, a biomass company that develops new materials from renewable sources.
- Fast Female Founder Award in Partnership with Sharjah Business Women’s Council: Playbook from Bahrain, a learning platform and membership network for women.
- Sustainability & ESG Innovator: Carbon Limit from the USA, a company focused on decarbonising the concrete industry.
- Fintech Innovator: Allink from South Korea, a tag-based payment and information transfer solution company.
- Blockchain Frontier Leader: WAM from Romania, a play-to-earn social gaming platform.
- X-Verse Builder (Meta, Web 3.0): LlamaZOO from Canada, a platform that transforms data into new formats using 3D visualisation and XR technology.
- MarTech Innovator: CopyMonkey from Latvia, a company that uses AI to create SEO-optimised product descriptions for e-commerce businesses.
- Creative Economy Innovator: Popmii from France, a company that enables the creation of personalized 3D content.
- AI Innovator: Earable from Vietnam, a neuroscience company that creates brain-enhancing technology.
- Mobility & Smart Cities Innovator: this new category, was won by ShapShap from Nigeria, which provides on-demand delivery services.
- Top Africa Fast Award: featuring 20 entrants from across the continent, this new category was won by Melanin Kapital from Kenya, a company focused on providing green finance for SMEs in Africa.
- Top MENA Start–up Award: Galactech from Oman, an entertainment e-sports company.
- Youth Entrepreneur Award: There were two winners. Kanz Art from the UAE took the first place and $5,000 prize for its platform for artists while the second place went to virtual re ality company Wewer from India who won $3,000.
Expand North Star
Earlier this week, GITEX GLOBAL announced the expansion of North Star into Expand North Star, diversifying and capitalising on the rising international interest in the UAE start-up ecosystem. Hosted by Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy and set to take place from 10-12 May 2023 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, Expand North Star shall present a new creative format to extend its engagements with venture capitalists, unicorns, scale-ups, start-ups, and key stakeholders in the tech ecosystem.
About Dubai World Trade Centre
With a vision to make Dubai the world’s leading destination for all major exhibitions, conferences and events, DWTC has evolved from being the regional forerunner of the fast-growing MICE industry into a multi-dimensional business catalyst, focusing on Venues, Events and Real Estate Management. Complementary to the primary service offerings are a range of value-added services from media/advertising, engineering and technical consultation and wedding planning, security services and an award-winning hospitality portfolio.