Darwazah Startup Accelerate’s (DSA) final competition is happening this Wednesday, April 17, at AUB where this year’s winners will be announced.
DSA is a student innovation contest launched in 2013 and organized by the Samih Darwazah Center for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, for all AUB undergrads.
The center was a gift for Samih Darwazah (a 1954 AUB graduate elected Middle East Entrepreneur of the year 2007 by multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young) from his children. They wanted to honor his passion for entrepreneurship and innovation and his desire to make a contribution to business in the region. The center aims to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem within the region.
“It is important to be frank about the fact that we are all building up the capabilities of the Lebanese and larger MENA entrepreneurship environment which now functions like a nascent landscape. Darwazah Center’s work, along with our partners, is helping transform this landscape into a thriving innovation ecosystem with world-class know-how,” says Bijan Azad, director of the Darwazah Center, Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship.
DSA receives around 110 applications from a variety of faculties (such as sciences, engineering and even translation) and selects 40 of them to pitch. Accordingly, 25 teams are chosen to benefit from DSA’s bootcamp in which they have to provide a detailed proposal at the end. Out of the 25 teams, eight make it to the final round of judges (non-AUB Lebanese investors and entrepreneurs ranging from ages 35 to 65) wherein two winners get rewarded $10,000 each. The startups are judged based on novelty, practicality, and financial viability. In fact, one of the 2018 DSA winners, the healthcare drug discovery platform DLoc Biosystems, won second-runner ups for the 2019 MITEF Arab Startup Competition.