Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, H.H Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, attended the final event of Pitch@Palace GCC 1.0, in the presence of The Duke of York, Founder of Pitch@Palace, at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi.

Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development (KFED), founding partner of Pitch@Palace UAE and GCC, announced the four winners of Pitch@Palace GCC 1.0.

The winners are: Saif Al Darmaki, for Artelus, which is an AI start-up company that utilizes artificial intelligence to provide screening solutions for the 'forgotten billion,' a term reflecting the billion people around the world who do not have access to primary healthcare screening. Abdullah Al Shimari, for Foodate, an online-based smart system for Food & Beverage services. It provides high-end tech-savvy services through an eCommerce gateway, which includes business tools like customized eCommerce web/app, smart management tools and payment gateways. Hala Sulaiman, for Alrawi, a new application that looks towards enhancing digital capability through audio book creation and distribution of Arabic books translated to a wide range of languages. Alharith Al Atawi, for One GCC, which is a breakthrough app that helps match the skills of today's line of job seekers with potential employers.

H.H Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said at the closing event: "The country believes in its youth and their potential to make a positive difference. Youth are the pillars of development, and any investment in encouraging their creativity, ideas and abilities, and equipping them with the right knowledge and guidance, will yield substantial results and contribute to the process of progress in the country."

H.H added: "The wise leadership is making every effort to encourage young minds to innovate, think fearlessly and help in the smooth transition of the country into a post-oil era. In this context, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, launched the "Tomorrow 21" - "Ghadan 21" plan, the Abu Dhabi Accelerated Development Program, aimed at stimulating businesses and enhancing knowledge and innovation, giving the Emirate a competitive edge and bolstering its economic, developmental and social progress."

Sheikh Abdullah also affirmed Abu Dhabi's keenness to continue its pioneering role as a global hub of innovation and creativity by promoting entrepreneurship among citizens, providing support to ensure their success and creating a platform to implement their ideas and converting them into fruitful projects.

H.H. thanked His Royal Highness for supporting the Pitch@Palace UAE and GCC, by providing youth with timely advice and guidance to start their dreams and achieve success in their businesses.

H. H Sheikh Abdullah, along with The Duke of York, toured the Khalifa Fund Innovation Oasis exhibition held on the sidelines of event and met with the Entrepreneurs supported by the Fund and its local partners. His Highness discussed with them their ideas and ambitions, providing them with timely advice.

HRH The Duke of York said; "It is an enormous pleasure to be here at Pitch@Palace GCC. Pitch has been expanding in this area for two years to include other members of the GCC. I believe very strongly that enabling entrepreneurship is a team effort. We need to build a community that gets behind and encourages these startup businesses, and working with colleagues here makes our job easier. Pitch works for entrepreneurs in a country, with the county, to give them that doorway to help their business move forward."

He added: "The one thing that makes more of a difference than anything else are the connections that you - the Audience - can make. You're going to have a 'lightbulb moment' when you realize exactly who you can put these businesses in touch with. All of you can make an enormous difference to these businesses when you make that serendipitous connection."

Hussain Jasim Al Nowais, Chairman of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, commended all local, regional Entrepreneurs of this year's Pitch@Palace competition, which has become a frontrunner in promoting innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

He said: "Ever since the launch of Pitch@Palace UAE last year, we have been able to achieve tremendous success in encouraging Emirati youth to become entrepreneurs. We owe our thanks and gratitude to our wise leaders, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for their continuous support and encouragement. The competition provides the perfect platform for innovation and creativity to flourish. It also encourages our young entrepreneurs to dream big and benefit from global exposure and exchange of experiences."

Al Nowais pointed out that since its establishment, Khalifa Fund has taken upon itself the responsibility of supporting and developing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as instilling a culture of entrepreneurship in UAE society in an effort to empower the young generation and strengthen their leadership skills.

He added: "Khalifa Fund has been a major contributor in promoting the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as a leading global hub for innovation and projects that rely entirely on advanced technologies. Right from inception until today, we have approved more than 1,400 projects with loans equaling AED 1.66 billion. The successful projects financed by the Fund exceeded 80 per cent. We conducted over 800 targeted campaigns that attracted more than 18,000 Emiratis to avail of its services. The Fund's specialized team provided timely advice, guidance and training to over 8000 Emiratis, of which over 60 per cent were women. While start-ups accounted for 79 per cent of approved projects, and 21 per cent were growth. Over 8 per cent of our active portfolio are exporting and more than 10 of our projects are now being franchised, which indicates a doubled investment rate and the success of the fund in supporting young local entrepreneurs to think creatively and harnesses new technologies, Artificial Intelligence and robots to serve fellow human beings and their homeland."

The winners will be able to participate in Pitch@Palace Global 2.0 and showcase their innovative projects at St. James's Palace in London this December. Entrepreneurs from the UAE and the Gulf region will be given an opportunity to present their ideas before an elite group of businessmen, investors, and high-level company executives, hosted by The Duke.

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs