From a 5G-powered future of mobility to start-up success
Day two of the 39th GITEX Technology Week and the 4th GITEX Future Stars saw 5G heavyweights discuss the ways that the technology will change the world, heard inspirational advice from sustainability champion Benjamin Stern on the NXG stage and witnessed the announcement of a landmark partnership between the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority and Microsoft.
GITEX day 2 kicks off with 5G impact
Drawing the attention of industry heavyweights, GITEX’s 5G Countdown stage hosted dedicated panel sessions and keynotes, welcoming telecoms leaders such as Dr. Mohamed Madkour, VP Global Wireless Networks Marketing and Solutions at Huawei, who gave a keynote speech this morning.
Speaking on the human aspect of 5G, Madkour said, “We often think about 5G in isolation. However, we need to see it as an interconnected mechanism that empowers businesses and entire nations through digital transformation. We need to remember that people are the driving force behind these technologies, and the question we need to ask ourselves is how can we all gear up for a future in which we live better lives.”
Fadi Pharaon, President of Middle East & Africa at Ericsson, gave examples of how companies and brands can take advantage of 5G. He said, “The key considerations of realising the full potential of 5G are by capturing the opportunity of 5G’s revenue potential, identifying industry pain points, mastering the go to market and investing in deployment capabilities.”
Industry leaders from Etisalat and du provided a more local angle during a panel session titled Battleground for 5G: what’s at stake.
Hatem Bamatraf, Chief Technology Officer, Etisalat International, highlighted that there are fine nuances between countries and the readiness of rolling out 5G networks, which will be a gradual process, he said. He highlighted that different markets have unique economic and infrastructural features that will impact the implementation of 5G across the region.
Discussing 5G’s sustainability aspects, Saleem Alblooshi, Chief Technology Officer at du, said, “We have to become more energy efficient, and sustainable technology is important, hence needs to be encouraged with the support of the regulators and other industry players. For that, we need to use more solar energy, for example, and make sure that sustainability goals are very strictly managed.”
Abu Dhabi Digital Authority announces Microsoft partnership
The Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) has used GITEX as a platform to announce that it has selected a host of Microsoft’s cloud and AI tools to drive the agency’s Smart Citizen Experience, including Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power BI.
“Our partnership with Microsoft will allow us to build an intelligent customer-service platform that will fulfil the ambitions of our leaders to streamline and optimise citizens’ and residents’ requests across Abu Dhabi government entities,” said His Excellency Saeed Al Mulla, Government Service Executive Director ADDA.
Through its TAMM platform, ADDA has started to consolidate more than 1600 government services into 80 customer journeys for the purposes of efficiency and optimisation, with the end goal of increasing citizens’ happiness.
Sayed Hashish, General Manager, Microsoft UAE, said, “We are a long-time partner of the Abu Dhabi government in its ambitions to elevate its e-services to peerless standards. Abu Dhabi’s leaders’ vision of a secure, confident society with a competitive, sustainable and globally open economy, is one we share.”
Shampoo pod startup Nohbo slashes plastic waste
Benjamin Stern, Founder and CEO of Nohbo, an innovative startup that seeks to reduce plastic waste through moisturising shampoo drops, addressed visitors, startups, and investors at GITEX’s NXG stage on the topic of entrepreneurship and why passion is crucial in business success.
Stern was inspired to reduce plastic waste from a young age after watching a TV documentary. He said in his keynote, “One of our biggest challenges from the onset was educating people about the use of these pods and finding the best presentation methods in order to really make them more mainstream. What people don’t know is that there are tons of opportunities to encapsulate daily use plastic products into a pod. In fact, every single use amenity can be encapsulated.”
Stern talked about his struggles of finding funding at an early stage as a startup. “I initially tried to do a kickstarter initiative, but it didn’t really work out for me and I would not advise others to do the same. I would definitely leave you with this piece of advice: do not launch a product on a crowdfunding platform before it’s ready.
“It was a pain to finally get to a point where we could sell our products because we faced major supply chain issues – I learned a lot of lessons on oversight and management.”
“Pitching is the heart of startups”: TechCrunch Editor-At-Large Josh Constine
Having scrutinised thousands of startup pitch decks, Josh Constine, Editor-At-Large at TechCrunch, was one of the most hotly anticipated speakers on the GITEX Keynotes stage.
Emphasising the importance of a good pitch, Constine, who has penned over 4,000 articles on the global startup ecosystem, said, “Every startup team member is a chief storyteller. You need to convince somebody to create something that does not exist. The pitch is the heart of the startup because it pumps blood and money into the startup. With a heroic story, you will be able to fund a startup that does not exist yet. Make your users your biggest evangelists.”
Constine said it was important to deliver good press and media exposure, which ultimately impacts everything from funding to hiring and sales. He also said that receiving the backing of A-list investors was a key advantage, and also urged founders to create but not believe in their own hype, as well as remaining realistic about certain challenges.
“UAE startup climate never been better”: Dubai Silicon Oasis CFO
As the UAE continues to make significant progress towards a wholly integrated innovation ecosystem and to build on the 10X initiative, which aims to make the UAE one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, William Chappell, the CFO and EVP at Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority took to the GITEX 10X Stage to share his advice for local tech entrepreneurs.
“Startup talent always needs an ecosystem to thrive,” he said. “The Yahoo-Maktoob acquisition has been a major trigger for entrepreneurial activity in the region, and capital earned from exits has been invested back in the region to create new innovative businesses and high-tech jobs. The UAE is still a young startup nation and has taken just over 15 years to build a robust ecosystem with a strong pipeline of investments and deals. Today, Dubai Silicon Oasis is home to over 800 startups with founders coming from over 70 different nationalities.”
Chappell highlighted that support for startups has never been better, due to the vision of the government in ensuring that startups have the right factors to enable growth. However, there is a need for more partners to come on board to support startups in the UAE and around the region. A wholly integrated ecosystem will require the right mix of talent, cross-border engagement, investors at all stages and integration with universities. The combination of all of these factors will not only spur the regional startup ecosystem to new levels but will also give rise to homegrown technology that will unlock economic impact at scale, Chappell said.