An Emirati start-up’s application that ensures patients take the right medication on time was among the winners of a global prize supporting entrepreneurship.
Dwak was handed the People’s Choice Award at the Pitch at the Palace event in London this week after a presentation to top business leaders.
The event at St James’ Palace – also known as Pitch@Palace and founded by Prince Andrew, Duke of York – gives small start-ups the boost they need to become a viable business and secure funding.
The business was established by students at the UAE University and has already scored a partnership with the Al Ain Pharmacy group.
Dwak’s team, led by graduate Mansour Al Kaabi, 25, and other winners were recognised at the end of a long process, which included winning pitches at a regional event at Emirates Palace hotel in October.
The competition’s past winners have created more than 1,100 jobs, with a survival rate of 95 per cent and have been responsible for economic activity of more than £400 million (Dh1.96 billion).
Student and entrepreneur Yahya Iqelan, 21, presented his idea for Dwak, which means your medicine” in Arabic, to one of his university business instructors, Steve Kranz – who understands the need to take medicine on time.
“Many years ago Steve was near death in a hospital and now must rely on daily medicine to stay alive,” Mr Iqelan said.
They formed a team with Mr Al Kaabi and Yahya’s sister Fatima Iqelan, a pharmacy student.
After a series of contests that started with the university’s ‘Challenge for Innovation’ competition, Dwak became widely recognised as a project that addressed a global need.
“Winning Pitch at the Palace UAE brought us public recognition of the problem Dwak is trying to solve – making sure people take their medicine properly,” said Mr Al Kaabi, an Emirati government employee.
“Winning in London shows we have a company with great potential across the world.”
Mr Iqelan said: “Once Dwak proves successful in the UAE we are looking to expand globally.
“Pitch at the Palace gave us the opportunity to accelerate our connections with the global market.”
The 13 teams that competed against Dwak included the humanitarian project nevHouse, which aims to end homelessness and build a greener world. It was crowned the winner of Pitch at the Palace Global.
The group takes the waste that people throw away and turn it into an affordable shelter. They make homes, classrooms and medical clinics from recycled material in just five days.
Another winner was Hireup, an online platform based in Australia that allows people with disabilities to find, hire and manage support workers.
Its services include finding help around the house, coaching for education and employment, transport or helping them run errands, therapy support and personal care.
“I am here to tell you about my brother Nick, and he is by far the most social, energetic person I ever met,” said Ben Armstrong, while pitching Hireup at the palace.
“But as we got towards the end of our schooling it was obvious our worlds would be different.
“As mine was opening up, his was closing down for no reason other than his disability. He had to rely on someone always to give him support.”
Normally they would have had to go to a local agency and pay a very expensive fee to hire a support worker based on availability, rather than choice and comfort.
“Which means that care on a daily is done by a complete stranger, and that is not OK,” Mr Armstrong said. “But we do have a solution, called Hireup.”
So far, Hireup involves 20,000 users from all over Australia, where the clients can meet the specialists who provide the service and hire workers with whom they feel comfortable.
“I am here because I know Nick’s story is not unique and I know that this little idea has global potential,” Mr Armstrong said.
Other contestants from the UAE included Brailleye, a mobile device that converts any text into Braille language by scanning it.