London Business School Reveals Leading 10 Innovators in MENA Startup Competition

London Business School Reveals Leading 10 Innovators in MENA Startup Competition 

The finalists for the second London Business School (LBS) MENA Startup Competition 2023 were announced today following a three-month rigorous and competitive selection process.

Ten exceptionally innovative seed-stage startups have earned their spot in the Grand Final, scheduled for Tuesday, October 10th, which is to be staged at the AstroLabs Campus facility in Dubai. These startups, carefully chosen from across the MENA region, encompass a wide spectrum of industries, with a notable emphasis on sustainability. These talented people are now gearing up to showcase their potential at this prestigious event, where they will present their pitches to a distinguished panel of judges.

The finalists are as follows:

AHAD, a cyber security company based in UAE, Arab Therapy, a wellness company based in Jordan;  Caena, a startup fundraising marketplace based in UAE; DUDI, a wellbeing company based in UAE; Hulexo, a retail Point of Service providing company based in UAE; Innotech, a 3D construction company based in Oman; Organic Waste Management Solutions, a food waste management company based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Playbook, a media and women career empowerment based in the Kingdom of Bahrain; The Surpluss, an industrial waste management company based in the UAE, and Zeal, a fintech and payment facilitation company based in Egypt.

The LBS MENA Startup Competition 2023 enters its second year, building upon its dynamic legacy as a transformative platform for innovation in the MENA region. With the backing of the well-regarded LBS Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital (IEPC), the competition has established itself as a vital bridge connecting aspiring entrepreneurs with venture capitalists and investors across MENA. It stands as a unique opportunity for founders to propel their startups to new heights, secure essential financial backing, broaden their market presence, and gain valuable media exposure.

This year's competition enjoys robust support from a diverse array of strategic partners deeply embedded in the startup ecosystem within the region, thereby offering a holistic platform for nurturing startup growth and development.

From sponsorship packages and awards generously offered by AstroLabs, Innobayt, AWS Activate, and Floward, to immersive workshops hosted by esteemed entities such as Spark! Studios, ADG Legal, Bambucorn, and Khwarizmi Ventures, participants in the competition will also have access to and benefit from a seasoned cadre of mentors from the Dubai Future District Fund and support from nine senior executive leaders. The latter includes Philipp Caspers-Pabst, Senior Associate, Dubai Future District Fund; Tracy Yang, General Manager EUI of Bytedance Tech to B; Hassan Alladin, Consultant-Strategy & Consulting, Cavendish Maxwell; Anna Dyngosz, Founder of; Karl Naim, Co-Founder & CEO Purpl; Kosta Bitopoulos, Partner, Passpadu; Abdulah Al-Shamma, Manager, Kearney; Alex Scott, Co-Founder. River Ventures and Country Lead, Superteam UAE, and Sergii Kashchenko, Consultant and Advisor and Board Member, iLicensing Works.

Working closely with LBS Alumni Ramzi Qannati (EMBA 2019) and Ihab Tabbara (EMBA 2019), Co- Presidents of the London Business School Entrepreneurship Club, a body of talented MBA students led by Chris Maroun (MBA 2024), and supported by Shannon Geara (MBA 2024) and Rawan El Jamal (MBA 2023), these students have set their sights on making ’23 a very special year for the competition.


“More than a gathering of ambitious entrepreneurs and leading investors, this event aims at fostering the growth of ground-breaking ideas and empowering visionary entrepreneurs throughout the region,” said Chris who is leading from London as Co-President of the LBS Entrepreneurship Club.


Demand was high for the competition, which received more than 90 applications from right across the MENA region, representing a wide range of sectors. After a meticulous evaluation process, a distinguished panel of 12 judges, including Suzie Ali-Hassan, Chief Partnerships Officer at Health Innovation Consortium UK, Laura Mansour, Program Director at Flat6Labs UAE, Sabira Huda, Program Lead at StartAD UAE, Dr. Mansoor Syed, Director of Innovation and Acceleration at AstroLabs KSA, Roberto Croci, Director at Public Investment Fund KSA, Michael Eisenberg, Founding Partner at Genuine Capital Advisors UK, Hussein Attar, CEO at Tech Invest KSA, Narayanan Ganapathy, CEO at Bambucorn Bahrain, Zainab Al Sharif, Principal at Plus VC Bahrain, Sami About Saab, Co-founder and Managing Partner at zigzag, UK, Osman Haneef, IEPC Program Manager at London Business School UK, and Hisham Akhtar an London Business School Alumnus, have selected the finalists for LBS MENA 2023.


Jane Khedair, Executive Director of the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital (IEPC), the body that plays a key role in supporting the competition, said: "I’m very excited about the second LBS MENA Startup Competition and the opportunity to build upon the resounding success of what was achieved last year. This event will undoubtedly serve as a wider catalysing agent for startups in the

MENA region.”


Ihab Tabbara, LBS MBA alumni and co-president of the LBS MENA Entrepreneurship Club in Saudi Arabia, said: "Our broader ambition with this competition is to cultivate a MENA-based entrepreneurial landscape by bridging the gap between founders and investors.”

In the inaugural edition of the competition in 2022, the technology startup Ollang emerged as the winner. Ollang specialises in end-to-end human-powered AI localisation through subtitles and dubbing for video and audio.

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