Sunday 13, December 2015

Dubai – MENA Herald: Commemorating the UAE Innovation Week, GEMS Education and leading UAE financial institution, Mashreq, launched their second joint ‘Mobile Application Development Challenge’ for students. The contest saw an overwhelming participation of several hundred secondary students from 20 GEMS schools across the UAE who showcased talent, determination and most significantly, innovation, in their designed apps.

The Mashreq GEMS ‘Mobile App Development Challenge’, now in its second year, took place as part of Ibda’a Innovation, GEMS Education’s celebration of the spirit of the UAE Innovation Week. During the final two weeks of November, students at GEMS schools, across the UAE, participated in local and international competitions, hack-a-thons, workshops, and panel discussions focused on innovation and entrepreneurship.

The collaboration between Mashreq and GEMS allows students to learn first-hand about innovation in industry and contribute their ideas and skills to effect change. Students were given three weeks to develop a working prototype for their mobile application and finalists were given an additional week to refine their prototype and develop their pitches. Students also had the opportunity to take online courses on design thinking and user experience as well as app development and gamification to help them create the best possible app.

Over 50 applications, presenting various practical solutions to banking problems, were developed by the teams of students and presented at the finals, held at GEMS Modern Academy.

The winning project, Marvel Mashreq, was developed by students from Our Own English High School – Sharjah (Boys). It featured a mix of unique security features, games, and incentive programs. Other noteworthy projects included spending alerts to help students manage their money, ways to make purchases without waiting in queues, and data collection for students to better understand their own spending patterns. The top three teams were each awarded AED 5,000 by Mashreq.

Christine Nasserghodsi, Innovation Leader at GEMS Education, said: “Teaching the thinking and technical skills required for innovation is a priority at our schools and woven throughout the K-12 school experience. Partnerships and competitions such as this allow our students to apply their skills to real world challenges and to engage with industry leaders in ways that are meaningful to all stakeholders.”

The participating students researched trends in retail banking with special focus on the characteristics of the under banked in the region and the ways in which technology has disrupted other traditional industries, such as hospitality and transportation. They also learned about the economic and personal benefits of engaging in cashless transactions.

GEMS students saw the value of participating in this real world application of their learning. The team MashApp YOUth from GEMS Our Own English High School, Dubai, said: “We were challenged by this opportunity which gave us a fresh perspective on retail banking. This competition opened our eyes to the art of innovation in banking and allowed us to share the new ideas that come from youth.”

Aref Al Ramli, Head of Electronic Business & Innovation at Mashreq, commented: “Innovation is in Mashreq’s DNA and we are proud to motivate students and nurture their talent. Innovation means different things to different people, but it certainly must provide the utmost convenience and a user-friendly experience. As a leading financial institution, we would like to play a significant role in the creation of the next generation of innovative leaders and continue to provide the latest innovations in banking technologies that are in line with the UAE’s vision of establishing a nation-wide digitally smart infrastructure.”

As part of the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy launched in October last year by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Innovation Week celebrated the best in ideas on innovation from the spectrum of government and private sectors, as well as from the public.