CUD students develop award-winning app for determined people

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: A team of entrepreneurs from Canada’s University of Dubai (CUD) have developed a new app to help determined job seekers by providing home-based job training using virtual reality. These student entrepreneurs have already been recognized for their social innovation, winning first prize in local and regional business pitch competitions.

The app is the work of three second-year architecture students; Ambre Tournadre, Jenna Harchaoui and Juliana Gayed, collectively known as Team Starlight. The group came together to develop the solution as part of their studies of entrepreneurship, under the mentorship of CUD’s internationally award-winning professor of entrepreneurship, Dr. Naveed Yasin, and with the support of the expert from the industry, Ms. Esha Anwar Khurshid, Chief Visionary Officer at Key2Enable, based in the United Arab Emirates. The team has since won first prize in the GCC-wide ProjectSet Innovation Challenge for Entrepreneurship 2022 (ICE-22) and SHERAA Entrepreneurship Center Annual Pitching Competition (2022).

Explaining the thinking behind the app, Ambre said, “Based on our course in entrepreneurship at CUD and creating impact in social innovation, our goal was to help determined people develop vocational skills that could lead them to secure employment and strengthen their independence. We discovered that traditional learning environments can cause anxiety in people with special needs, so we set out to develop a solution that could solve this problem. The app we created uses virtual reality to allow them to learn and practice new skills safely, in their own environment, with the help of their primary caregivers.

Talking about the importance of innovation, Jenna said: “Our research revealed that the unemployment rate of determined people reaches up to 80% in the Asian continent, while their exclusion from the workplace represents an annual loss. of $1.2 trillion for the global DPG. . Our app focuses on developing skills in a holistic way, to ensure that determined individuals are able to secure sustainable employment. It can be customized to individual needs, and we aim to cover a wide range of personal and professional skills, from self-care exercises such as breathing and meditation, to practical tasks such as customer service.

The competition’s first win at ICE-22 saw the team triumph in a three-week virtual hackathon that hosted over 112 participants from 36 universities across the GCC region. Ranked among the top eight entries out of 78 submissions in the first stage, the Starlight team won first place in the final stage of the competition for presenting the best social innovation. The Starlight team received Є6000 in prizes for developing the project under the Scaleaway startup program.

Building on this success, Dr. Naveed Yasin and Ms. Esha Anwar then mentored the students to participate in an entrepreneurship competition held in Sharjah. The Starlight team then won the top prize in the SHERAA pitch competition, winning a business mentoring support package worth AED 5,000, organized by the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre.

Speaking about the competition experience, Juliana said, “This process taught me many valuable lessons in entrepreneurship; it advanced my knowledge of the business world and gave me confidence in my presentation skills. After competing against senior and postgraduate students from across the region, we were very proud to see our innovation win in prestigious competitions like ICE-22 and SHERAA Pitching Competition.

Mentoring the team through the process, CUD Entrepreneurship Professor Dr. Yasin said, “CUD encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, and we believe in providing students with opportunities exciting opportunities to progress and develop both academically and professionally. At CUD, we are proud that our entrepreneurship students demonstrate such an impact in such prestigious competitions in the region; this testifies that entrepreneurship is embedded in the Canadian University of Dubai. We are on our way to becoming one of the leading entrepreneurship universities in the region, fully engaged in the entrepreneurship ecosystem of the UAE and Canada. On behalf of CUD, we congratulate the Starlight team on their success and look forward to supporting them on their journey to entrepreneurship.


About Canadian University Dubai

Canadian University Dubai, established in 2006, is a higher education institution located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ranked in the top 2% of universities in the world and in the top 4 in the UAE according to the QS World University Rankings 2022, CUD offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate academic programs, based on the Canadian curriculum, and serves gateway for students to pursue higher education, research and employment opportunities in Canada.

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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