Stars of Science hopefuls float ideas

 26 Sep 2016 - 10:55

Stars of Science hopefuls float ideas

The Peninsula

Stars of Science, the Arab world’s most popular ‘edutainment’ reality show eveloped by Qatar Foundation, returned to TV screens this month with its first two casting episodes. Dedicated to finding the top Arab innovators with creative solutions in the biomedical and information technology spheres, the episodes showcased young people from all over the region vying for a chance to become candidates on the show. Stars of Science hopefuls tried to persuade an expert jury to get shortlisted for the Majlis episode, where nine of them will be selected to develop their ideas into working prototypes.

On the first casting episode, biomedical innovators exhibited their ideas to a well-established panel of experts led by Stars of Science veteranProfessor Fouad Mrad, known as ‘The Instigator.’ The professor, famous for his ‘tough love’ feedback, leads a United Nations centre dedicated to technology for development in the Middle East.

Joining him was the ever popular Professor Abdelhamid El Zoheiry, known as ‘The Collaborator.’ A bridge builder for medical educators around the world, Professor El Zoheiry brings a keen eye and sharp wit to the jury.

Rounding out the group was Aysha Al Mudahka, CEO of the Qatar Business Incubation Center. Aysha, ‘The Catalyst,’ is an expert at identifying and growing startups and is listed as one of the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women by CEO Middle East Magazine. 

The first casting episode featured both inspired and novel inventions ranging from infant care to fitness. Jurors unanimously rejected some bizarre ideas, like a device that purported to detect the romantic compatibility between two users. On the other hand, some projects, like Yazi Alalo’s home storage fish safety indicator, earned the praise of jurors. Taking the unconventional route of pitching with her five month-old baby, Yazi successfully showed how her idea could help reduce food waste, earning her a spot on the shortlist for the upcoming Majlis episode.

The second casting episode aimed to find Arab innovators with information technology projects. Professor Mrad and Aysha Al Mudahka were joined by ‘The Pioneer’ – Dr Ahmed K Elmagarmid, the Executive Director of Qatar Computing Research Institute at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar. Dr Elmagarmid has been at the forefront of computing in the region since the 1970s, and brings experience from Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

“These brave innovators belong to a generation of problem-solvers around the Arab world who are developing potential solutions to some of the region’s biggest challenges,” said Aysha Al Mudahka. 

“As enthusiastic, optimistic, and talented as they are, only nine will have the opportunity to see their ideas realised into prototypes on the show. Our task as jurors is made even more difficult with the quality of ideas that we have seen on the first two casting episodes.” Only one casting episode remains, to be aired on October 1. It will focus on aspiring candidates whose ideas relate to the energy and environment. On October 8, the shortlisted hopefuls will find out if they will be invited to Doha, Qatar as a Stars of Science candidate, or if they will have to try again next year.

Candidates will fiercely compete against each other over the course of two stages of the programme: the prototyping and customer validation rounds. Over the course of the show, they will be challenged to develop and enhance their projects to benefit communities and generate a global impact. The four candidates with the most viable projects will then move on to the life-changing finale, where they will earn a share of $600,000 of seed-funding after an online public vote and jury vote.