The startup winners of the first competition of the Mobile App Launchpad Program (MAL) led by Google, Udacity and the Egyptian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology were announced today. After four months of developing and executing their ideas, twelve participating teams pitched to a judging panel of senior executives from Google and other industry experts to receive funding and extensive mentorship for their startup mobile apps.
The competition was divided into two tracks: the Startup Track and the Tech & Innovation Track. 7asala, an online platform where users can donate to a specific project within an NGO won first place and a total of 20K USD in the Startup Track. While the Balloon Mail app, which aims to spread positive messages anonymously, won first place at the Tech and Innovation Track.
Hosted by the MIT Enterprise Forum, the competition is the first in a series of four in the ongoing Mobile Application Launchpad program launched in November of last year where 480 students from 20 governorates in Egypt have completed the course to date. The program aims to reach a total of 2000 students. MAL is geared at grooming Egypt’s successful mobile app developers using three main pillars: training, certification and career guidance/job placements in the ICT field.
A group of CEOs and founders of Egyptian ventures and startups made up the judging panel which included Google MENA’s Head of Consumer Marketing Najeeb Jarrar and Dr. Hossam Osman, CEO of the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC). The panel also included Neveen Tahri, Chairperson and Managing Director, Delta Holding for Financial Investments, Karim Hussein, Founder & CEO, D-Kimia, Dina Sherif, CEO and Co-founder, Ahead of the Curve, Wael Amin, Partner at Sawari Ventures, and Remon Zakaria, Chairman and Founder of DashSoft & KetApp.
The competition had two tracks: the Innovation and Tech track, as well as the Startup track. In two parallel sessions, finalists from each track pitched their projects to the judges who chose the winners based on the level of maturity of the idea, the application, and the readiness of the team.
“When we launched MAL in November of last year, we did it because we believe young Egyptians can be major contributors to the growing mobile app industry in the region. After seeing MAL graduates pitch their innovative ideas today, I am proud to see where they have come. We look forward to having more developers join us so we can help them reach their full potential,” Hisham El Araby, project lead at Google for the Mobile App Launchpad Program, said.
Commenting on the competition, Dr. Hossam Osman, CEO of the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC), “As an entity that represents Egypt’s endeavors of promoting and driving innovation and entrepreneurship in the ICT sector, we are very delighted to be part of this event and witness the ceremony where we celebrate the winning teams and tap into the potential of these young minds and offer them a creative environment to innovate.”
“This initiative provides critical support in developing leading mobile developers in Egypt. Through initiatives such as these, we can expect more of Egypt’s youth to be amongst the top players in mobile applications,” Catherina Ballout, Managing Director GCC, said.
The competition was held at the American University of Cairo and was followed by the graduation ceremony of the third batch of developers who completed the MAL program.
The developers behind the competing apps and startups mainly focused on making everyday life more practical. You can find out more about all the competing apps on the official website of the MAL program here.
Google and the MCIT launched MAL in partnership with e-learning platform Udacity in November 2015. What makes this program unique is that it focuses on three pillars: training and certification in intermediary and advanced mobile app development as well as career guidance and placement in the ICT sector.
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About MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab
Founded in 2005, the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab is one of the 28 worldwide chapters of the MIT Enterprise Forum Global, an avid promoter of entrepreneurship and innovation worldwide. The MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab has a proven record in promoting MIT-style entrepreneurship by organizing each year the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition targeting 21 countries of the Arab region and receiving over 80,000 applications. The competition has led to the creation of over 300 startups, 2000 jobs and $685,000 in seed funding.