Muscat: The programme of transforming graduation projects to start-ups in the Information and Communication Technology sector (ICT) was announced on September 5.
‘Upgrade’ is jointly developed and supervised by The Research Council (TRC), Omantel, SAS for entrepreneurship from the Information Technology Authority, and the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Development ‘Riyadah’.
Of the eight graduation projects that reached the final evaluation stage of the programme, Upgrade’s three winning projects that will be incubated under the programme to be transformed into ICT start-ups were ‘Unmanned Surface Vessel for Oil Spillage Handling’, prepared by a team from SQU; ‘Wear View: Virtual Reality Application for Job Seekers’, prepared by a team from Rustaq College of Education; and ‘Facial-Recognition application to scan people’s identities and verify the legitimacy of their presence in the country’, prepared by a team from Middle East College. The ‘Unmanned Surface Vessel for Oil Spillage Handling’ project prepared by the team that involved Waleed Al-Maawali, Omar Al-Zakwani, Ahmed Al-Naabi, Ibrahim Al-Jahwari, and Moosa Al-Masuudi from SQU, is a marine robot designed as an unmanned vessel that can respond to marine oil spill notifications, received by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA), and navigates to the location of contamination, collects samples, detects the type of contamination, and sends real-time alerts to MECA.
The project of “Wear View: Virtual Reality Application for Job Seekers” prepared by Zainab Al Blushi, Halail Al Mayahi, Mahaa Al Badri from Rustaq College of Education, is an application that helps job seekers and fresh graduates practice and prepare for job interviews using virtual reality simulation.
The Middle East College project of “Facial-Recognition application to scan people’s identities and verify the legitimacy of their presence in the country” prepared by Naama Al Siyabi, Najla Al Siyabi, and Ismail Al Siyabi aims at developing a face recognition system for scanning criminals’ faces through glasses that can be wore by policemen in Oman.
According to Dr. Ali Al Shidhani, Director of Research Centres at TRC, Upgrade’s aspirations for the coming cycles of the programme have increased to try to accept graduation projects not only from the Sultanate, but from the other GCC countries as well.
Delivering the Omantel speech, Dr. Ghalib Saif Al Hosni, Chief People Officer at Omantel, said, “The Upgrade programme is the first building block towards more success and excellence for the participating students who excelled in this edition of this programme.”
“Through this second cycle of the Upgrade programme, we aspire to support the small and medium enterprises sector with start-ups that contribute to the national economy as part of Omantel’s strategy and vision in supporting the Omani youth and developing their capacities in ICT-related areas,” he added.
A total of 68 projects applied under Upgrade this year, which reflect the growing attention paid by undergraduates to the world technological progress.
Participating projects had to fall among one or more of these topics: Smart Cities Solutions, Internet of Things Applications, Artificial Intelligence, Information Security and Big Data and Blockchaintechnology.
“Upgrade” aims to create a convenient environment for the innovations of students in the university stages and the conversion of graduation projects in the ICT sector to start-up companies that are capable of delivering economic and social benefits.
Each of the three winning graduation projects will get seed funds and incubation for three years at SAS for entrepreneurship of the Information Technology Authority. The winning teams will get all the possible assistance to turn the idea of their graduation project to start-up companies through incubation, entrepreneurship consultancy, providing the necessary seed financing, giving commercial and financial skills and providing technical advice, in addition to a training opportunity in one of the project-related international companies. While the labour and ownership of those companies go to the project owners themselves, they will have to work on preserving their intellectual property rights.
The award ceremony, which was held at Sundus Rotana Hotel under the patronage of Her Highness Sayyida Dr. Mona bint Fahad Al Said, Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Cooperation at Sultan Qaboos University, included presenting the experience of Wadi Makkah Company, a company that provides seed funds and invests in knowledge-based projects in Saudi Arabia.
The closing ceremony was accompanied with an exhibition for the eight projects that reached the final evaluation stage of the Upgrade competition.