The 14 Entrepreneurs Advancing To The Next Stage Of The Aviram Family Foundation’s Tech For Humanity Competition

Saving bees through robotic hives. Growing fresh food on demand via autonomous farming units. Giving wheelchair-bound individuals the chance to stand upright.

These are just three of the innovative concepts pitched by the 14 semifinalists in the inaugural Aviram Awards-Tech for Humanity competition.

The 14 semifinalists in the inaugural Aviram Awards-Tech for Humanity competition.  AVIRAM

This groundbreaking contest, created by Ziv Aviram and the Aviram Family Foundation, spotlights visionary Middle Eastern and North African startups developing tech solutions to today’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.

This past fall, entrepreneurs in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had the opportunity to submit a written description and short video to Forbes outlining their innovative product. 

The Aviram Family Foundation and Forbes received hundreds of submissions, and 14 semifinalists were chosen in January 2021. Following their selection, the semifinalists participated in a virtual event where they received coaching and tips on how to hone their pitches.

Five finalists will head to Dubai this spring, where they’ll present their idea to judges and business leaders from around the world. They’ll compete for the title of most impactful startup as well as three cash prizes. The winner will be announced on March 22, 2022, and receive $500,000 as well as mentoring from entrepreneur Ziv Aviram; the second- and third-place finishers will receive $100,000 and $50,000, respectively.

Explore the semifinalists’ inspiring tech solutions below.

Ziad Abu Ayyash, Founder and CEO, Sannula Safe Medtech (Jordan)

While working as a junior nurse, Abu Ayyash watched helplessly as two colleagues accidentally stuck themselves with contaminated needles and contracted diseases that ultimately ended their nursing careers. This led him to invent the Sannula, a safety cannula designed to prevent accidental injuries from needles as well as reduce blood backflow and vein ruptures during intravenous and blood transfusion injections. “Our focus is to provide our nurses and doctors a safe and protected environment,” says Abu Ayyash.

 

Alanoud Al Hashmi, CEO, The Futurist Company (United Arab Emirates)

To tackle food scarcity, Al Hashmi and her team at The Futurist Company developed GAIA, an automated, AI-driven farming system that produces organic fruit and vegetables in a sustainable, controlled environment year-round. The highly scalable capsule, which leverages more than 10 technologies, can be deployed anywhere and increase produce yield by up to 30%. “We believe that good-quality food should be affordable,” says Al Hashmi. “How we’re going to achieve that with GAIA is by providing a solution that is sustainable using clean energy and [that will] allow us to grow almost everything, no matter what the season and the environment outside.” 

 

Sara Benlafqih, Cofounder and CEO, BMTA&C (Morocco)

After discovering that farmers can lose as much as one-third of their harvest because of limited access to cold storage solutions, the team at BMTA&C invented a solar fridge that extends the shelf life of crops from two to 20 days. The fridge can store 6 tons of fruits and vegetables, and, unlike other products on the market, BMTA&C’s technology only uses natural cooling fluids that don’t negatively impact the environment. “By giving access to clean, reliable and affordable energy, our technology promotes food security, fights climate change and improves farmers’ livelihoods,” says Benlafqih.

 

Youssef Bouyakhf, Cofounder and CEO, Deepecho (Morocco)

To reduce the infant and maternal mortality rate caused by incorrect ultrasound diagnosis, the team at Deepecho created software that mimics what a trained sonographer can measure and detect on an ultrasound. Through deep learning algorithms, the software provides an accurate and quick picture of fetal development by measuring the length of various bones, head circumference and even the amount of amniotic fluid, which can determine whether a baby is at risk for fetal growth restriction. 

 

Ari Gargir, Founder and CEO, RedC Biotech (Israel) 

What if we could eliminate the need for volunteer blood donations and provide more lifesaving treatments? That’s Ari Gargir’s goal. His company, RedC Biotech, is developing a revolutionary process that mass-produces red blood cells from stem cells, which can then be used by hospitals and relief organizations all over the world. “RedC Biotech’s mission is to provide the world with high-quality, universal red blood cell units for transfusions, suitable for most humans and all blood types,” says Gargir. 

 

Smeetha Ghosh, Cofounder and CEO, Cashee (United Arab Emirates)

Cashee is a digital banking and financial education platform that aims to improve the financial literacy of teenagers in the Middle East. The free app allows teens to track their earnings, savings and spending; interact with gamified content; and get prepaid cards so they can spend their money safely. “We started Cashee because we feel that financial literacy is a key life skill that’s not taught in schools, and parents are struggling to teach money management at home,” says Ghosh. “So we want to leverage technology to make a positive impact in society.”

 

Ami Glicksman, Founder and CEO, IvyVie (Israel) 

Ami Glicksman wanted to increase the quality of life of those who need regular infusion treatments by untethering them from their bulky, cumbersome intravenous bags and poles. So he invented IvyVie, a pocket-sized, gravity-independent, battery-operated IoT infusion pump. As a digitally controlled device, the pump can be remotely activated and deactivated, and its small size means patients can easily move around and even go for a walk during their infusion therapies. “This first-of-its-kind, 150-gram miracle is not only an IV pump—it can be the patient’s key to freedom,” Glicksman says. “Home and hospital treatment is about to change completely.” 

 

Adi Goldman, CEO and Cofounder, Biotic (Israel) 

Biotic wants to solve the world’s pollution crisis by accelerating the transition away from fossil-based plastics. To do so, the company has created durable, bio-based and fully biodegradable polymers that can be used for the vast majority of today’s plastic needs, including in packaging, disposables and single-use products. As outlined in its pitch video for the competition, “Biotic envisions a world where plastic pollution is no longer a concern. A world in which the consumer purchases a product in the exact same manner and, after use, tosses it into any trash, without the need to sort or recycle.” 

 

Mark Ishay, CEO, Leket Robotics (Israel) 

“Smart farming is the future.” So says Leket Robotics, which has developed a self-sufficient, plug-and-play farming unit that can be placed indoors and grow healthy, fresh food. Through robotics and automation, the system mimics the functions of a human hand, meaning it can handle an entire farming cycle from seeding to vegetating to flowering, fruiting, harvesting and cleaning. As shared in the company’s pitch video, “Now we can have fresh and healthy food—on demand.” 

 

Andres Kukawka, CEO and CTO, Otorize (Israel) 

Otorize aims to prevent accidents and save lives by detecting cognitive impairment—be it from alcohol, marijuana or other substances—via an app. This breakthrough app uses a scientifically proven cognitive test that can detect impairment without using bodily fluids. While Otorize focuses on driver safety first, it can apply to other circumstances, like worker safety. “In five seconds, we detect impairment, regardless of substance,” says Kukawka, “and through a series of IoT integrations, we can prevent ignition of the car, entering of a door or [using] any other equipment—and [thus] prevent the accident, which saves lives.” 

 

Ron Nagar, President and CEO, TempraMed (Israel) 

For many medications to work as intended, they need to be kept at the proper temperature. To make that process easier and more efficient, TempraMed has created portable, sensor-driven devices that allow people to store, protect and carry their medications worry-free. The company’s VIVI Cap, for instance, can be placed on top of an insulin pen and protect the medication through advanced insulation and self-activated heat absorption—no battery needed.

 

Saar Safra, Cofounder and CEO, Beewise (Israel) 

To extend the lives of bees, improve pollination and increase honey yields, Beewise has created an autonomous, solar-powered hive that can monitor bees around the clock, constantly assessing their needs and applying treatments in real time—all without human intervention. With BeeHome, beekeepers can remotely manage their hives through their phones, and thanks to precision robotics and AI, the hive can feed bees, treat illnesses, monitor pests, control temperature plus humidity and harvest honey, among other things. “We are revolutionizing beekeeping and saving billions of bees’ lives,” says Safra. “To save the bees, we don’t need to think outside the box; we need to reinvent the box.” 

 

Oren Tamari, Founder and CEO, UPnRIDE Robotics (Israel) 

Tamari is on a mission to give those confined to a wheelchair more freedom and mobility. So he and his team at UPnRIDE Robotics invented the UPnRIDE, a revolutionary wheeled device that allows people with lower limb disability or weakness to be mobile in both the standing and sitting position. With this device, individuals can smoothly navigate through any indoor or outdoor terrain. “This machine is an absolute miracle,” says one user. “It makes a big difference in someone’s life, being able to stand up and not have to look at the world from down below.”

 

Bara Wahbeh, Cofounder and CTO, AKYAS (Jordan)

AKYAS strives to improve access to safe sanitation. Its solution? A wastewater treatment system in a compostable, portable, compact bag. By preventing the cross-contamination of fecal matter with the surrounding environment, the product not only reduces waterborne diseases but also transforms waste into bio-products that can be used for land reclamation or other agricultural purposes. “We are not only providing affordable access to safe sanitation,” says Wahbeh, “but also making an impact on climate mitigation and adaptation through our new treatment method that reduces greenhouse gas emission and water consumption.”

 

Credit: Forbes 10:03, 16.02.22