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23 July 2024

Dubai Holding announces winner and runner-up for its ‘innovate for tomorrow global sustainability challenge’

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By E247

Dubai Holding, a diversified global investment company with investments in 31 countries, announced the winner and runner-up for its global sustainability challenge, ‘Innovate for Tomorrow’. The challenge received 150 outstanding submissions world-wide, highlighting impact-driven solutions that address critical sustainability issues in the UAE.

In alignment with Dubai Holding’s commitment to reinforcing the UAE Government’s leadership in climate action and boosting a circular economy, the challenge aimed to advocate responsible consumption and production practices in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 and Group’s Sustainability Strategy. It sought to unlock new solutions in areas, including economic circularity, efficient resource use, supply chain sustainability, waste minimisation and consumer education, to accelerate the UAE’s path towards net-zero by 2050.

Hosted at the Museum of the Future, the Pitch and Award Ceremony of ‘Innovate for Tomorrow’ saw five exceptional finalists presenting their scalable solutions to a distinguished judging panel of professionals, in the presence of the Group’s senior management, industry experts, partners and key stakeholders. Pitches were assessed for business viability, scalability, innovation and impact potential of the proposed solutions.

Frank Cato Lahti from Othalo, Norway, was named the winner for his ‘Upcycling Plastic into Homes’ solution. He was awarded an exclusive, funded implementation of the award-winning solution through a pilot programme with Dubai Holding, guided by the Group’s top experts. Rana Hajirasouli from The Surpluss, UAE, was recognised as the runner-up for her ‘Transforming Excess into Equal Access’ solution. The three other finalists were Manhat, UAE; Mi Terro, USA; and Midori, UAE.  


The winner and runner-up were granted a one-year access to TECOM Group’s in5 business incubator, the challenge’s execution partner. Additionally, the five finalists will all benefit from Dubai Holding’s extensive support network and attend a pitch day event featuring a group of potential investors.

The ‘Innovate for Tomorrow’ Challenge attracted entrants from across 31 countries, 68 per cent of which were UAE based companies, underlining the wealth of innovation that exists across the Emirates. Nearly 30 per cent of the companies that applied had a female founder and 81 per cent of the scale- ups that entered were operational. Focus areas of the entrants included over a third of the total looking at waste reduction, recycling and reusing, 24 per cent focused on solving supply chain sustainability issues and 22 per cent looking at resource efficiency. A further 15 percent of the entrants focused on supporting consumer education and raising awareness of key issues linked to sustainability.

Huda Buhumaid, Chief Impact Officer, Dubai Holding, said: “I highly commend the innovative spirit and commitment to sustainability demonstrated by all submissions, including the five pitches presented today. I also extend sincere congratulations to the winner and runner-up for their remarkable achievements. The high quality and diversity of ideas we received from these scale-up company innovators underscore the urgent need to implement innovative solutions to drive impact and lead the shift towards a circular economy.

“Innovate for Tomorrow champions innovation and sustainability, showcasing Dubai Holding’s commitment to harnessing entrepreneurial talent in support of the UAE’s net-zero ambitions. As a socially responsible business, sustainability and philanthropy are the cornerstone of our operations, and we are dedicated to fostering innovation and job creation by empowering SMEs and scale-up companies. We look forward to reinforcing the winner with mentorship in the next phase of the challenge as they transform their visionary ideas into reality through a pilot programme with the Group, with the goal of driving substantial positive change in the UAE,” Buhumaid added.

“Enabling entrepreneurship is crucial to catalyse change and drive sustainable, future-focused economic progress,” said Majed Al Suwaidi, Senior Vice President of Dubai Media City at TECOM Group PJSC, on behalf of in5. “Incubators like in5 are pivotal to nurture innovative ideas into thriving value-additions to the local economy, and our partnership with Dubai Holding’s Innovate for Tomorrow Challenge demonstrates our efforts to strengthen the local knowledge economy. As we align with the goals of Dubai Economic Agenda ‘D33’ and Dubai’s Universal Blueprint for AI (DUB.AI), in5 continues to empower entrepreneurs to solve the world’s greatest challenges both now and in the future. We commend the participants, finalists and winners of the Innovate for Tomorrow Challenge and are committed to continue nurturing our ecosystem to help transform their ideas into successful services and solutions for the good of all.”

The winner, Frank Cato Lahti from Othalo, Norway, said: “This challenge represents the most incredible opportunity to partner with Dubai Holding, allowing us a springboard into the MENA region and into the world. Dubai Holding has a power of execution that few others have, and this region has consistently pushed the boundaries and made the impossible possible. Thank you again to Dubai Holding and its execution partner TECOM Group’s in5 business incubator.”

Dubai Holding plays a pivotal role in the sustainable growth of Dubai and the UAE through strategic collaborations with the private and public sector, launching meaningful initiatives for the Good of Tomorrow.