'Innovation 4 Impact' competition opens

Aims to monetise Islamic economy sectors via technology

The inaugural ‘Innovation 4 Impact’ competition, the first-of-its-kind targeting the growing Islamic digital economy, will take center stage at the Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES 2015) as one of the event’s key highlights. The summit is scheduled to run from October 5-6 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

The competition, which opened applications on June 29, closes for submissions on August 10.

Any company or entrepreneur with a potentially groundbreaking idea or business venture pertaining to either e-commerce, mobile computing, cloud computing, big data, hyper-converged platforms, or new media and social media can participate in the competition.

The competition will include three rounds of assessment. Ideas will be judged on the criteria of innovation, economic and social impact, as well as scalability across markets and regions. Shortlisted entrepreneurs will be invited to submit detailed proposals, participate in telephone interviews, and eventually present their ideas to an expert panel, as well as to an audience comprising prominent entrepreneurs, trade visitors and opinion leaders from around the world.

The winner, selected through the votes of the jury and the audience, will be announced on the concluding day of the Global Islamic Economy Summit on October 6, and awarded an array of financial, incubational and recreational support prizes. The winning entrepreneur’s proposition will also be specially showcased at GIES 2015.

The competition is hosted by Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) and Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and organised by Thomson Reuters. It is being managed in collaboration with American Muslim Consumer Consortium.

Badr Buhannad, Senior VP – Strategy & ICT and Project Leader of Digital Islamic Economy at Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, said: "We are confident that the Innovation 4 Impact competition will allow entrepreneurs and innovators to benefit from a new platform to demonstrate the promise and potential of the Islamic digital economy with solid value propositions. We have developed an enabling business environment in DSO to nurture and support innovative ideas and promising start-ups in the fields of Islamic digital economy and Arabic content, as well as the technology field. We are also working with Thomson Reuters on the Islamic digital economy report whose findings will be revealed after the summit.”

Nadim Najjar, Managing Director of Thomson Reuters, Middle East and North Africa, said, “It is a fact today that Muslims around the world are not simply adopting technology, but also innovating within it to influence their lifestyles positively. From Quran apps to Halal travel and entertainment programs, the Islamic digital economy has become a part of everyday life, and this is the right time to support an initiative that builds on our findings and serves to nurture a vibrant culture of Islamic entrepreneurship, ultimately impacting the lives of millions of Muslims worldwide."

The initiative to launch a competition that effectively serves as an incubator for SMEs in the Islamic digital sector across the world is driven by the findings of the State of the Islamic Digital Economy report by Thomson Reuters and DSOA. The report suggests that the number of Muslim consumers of digital services across the world will grow by 20 per cent per annum over the next five years, outpacing the initial forecasted growth rate of 15 per cent per annum. Figures for 2014 further indicate that Muslim consumers account for an estimated 8 per cent of the global digital economy, which effectively points to the reality of a growing sub-sector – the Islamic digital economy – and the increasing value of digital services to Muslims seeking a ‘halal’ lifestyle.

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