Recently held at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, the 1776 Challenge Cup was organized in partnership with Boeing HorizonX. The event brought together an impressive collection of 12 entrepreneurs that had innovative solutions to current complex global challenges.  The venue came alive as the audience enthusiastically focused on the most promising startups and their 2 minute pitches to industry leaders.

To kickstart, the evening began with opening remarks from 1776’s Managing Director, Margaret Shepard and Boeing HorizonX’s Michael Hauser. Boeing HorizonX was recently announced as a new “innovation cell” within the world’s largest aerospace company. In addition to providing investment capital to entrepreneurs, the HorizonX team works directly with startups pursuing alternative approaches to traditional business opportunities and helping develop partnerships and market access.

“The 1776 Challenge Cup fits perfectly within our plans to continue to build on Boeing’s heritage in the UAE,” Bernard Dunn, the President of Boeing Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, “while also looking to the future with the Middle East and building local capacities.” Along with Michael Hauser and Margaret Shepard, Noah Rashford from the Dubai Museum of the Future, and Heather Henyon from Dubai Angels Investors were the prestigious judges for the event.

Michael Hauser, Tarek Ghobar, VIkita Shahani, Nikhil Shahani

I was impressed to see the caliber of innovations, from Askofy, a mobile app for social polling, to Junkbot, which sells DIY robotic kits that allow students to build robots from recycled household junk – all the startup competitors represented a wide range of industries. There were also personalized solutions to having an automated service that provides suggestions for daily errands and having an easy to tap device that captures objective restaurant reviews.

Perhaps the most innovative solution, that won the judges and will be showcased at the Global Finals in November is WakeCap Technologies. Ishita Sood and I had a long chat about her venture and I soon learned that her wearable tech breakthrough uses uses existing safety helmets worn by construction workers to help monitor the worker’s heat and stress levels, while also preventing heat-related illnesses. The technology’s machine-learning algorithms learns about a worker’s behavior in response to different heat index measures and then provides personalized suggestions on how much water to drink, when to rest, and when to stop working altogether. It can even alert construction managers during emergencies, which takes the safety and productivity of construction workers to the next level.


Nikhil Shahani, Tarek Ghobar, Vikita Shahani, Ishita Sood


Tarek Ghobar, Vikita Shahani, Ishita Sood

The evening ended with a great networking session and photo opportunities, as well, motivated the various startups to continue pushing boundaries, shattering glass ceilings and building a strong ecosystem for startups within the region.  Personally, I am super inspired to put on the innovation cap and begin designing cool new ideas. How about you, do you have a great new concept? Leave a message in the comments below.

Nikhil Shahani, Tarek Ghobar, Vikita Shahani

Credits: 1776


Leave a Reply