SQU students win NBO’s SME Award in innovation


National Bank of Oman (NBO) has announced the winner of the Innovation in SME Award for students, a unique competition designed to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs and support the Sultanate’s wider economic diversification agenda. Eureka, a group of students from Sultan Qaboos University, walked away with RO 10,000 to further develop an innovative business idea to benefit Oman’s economy.

The competition reflects NBO’s belief in creating a culture of innovation to advance Oman’s economy and the wider community. It was open to all full-time undergraduate university students in Oman, with 45 groups spending several months developing an innovative and promising business idea related to a range of sectors. Launched in May 2015, the competition required students to participate either in an individual capacity or to work in a team of up to three members.

During an event held recently, four teams presented their business ideas to a panel of judges. The jury was impressed with the projects that the participants developed within just a few months, which focused on a range of sectors including technology, sustainable energy, tourism and retail.

Addressing the students at the award ceremony, Mohammed Mahfoodh Al Ardhi, NBO’s chairman, said: “The ongoing diversification of Oman’s economy relies on the ideas and ambition of young people like those who took part in the Innovation in SME Award. In a short period of time, they were able to conceive and develop ideas across a whole range of sectors. With time and support, these young entrepreneurs have the potential to achieve great things. National Bank of Oman looks forward to backing them as they turn their ideas into reality.”

Ahmed Al Musalmi, CEO of NBO, commented: “The first Innovation in SME competition is another example of NBO’s ceaseless commitment to inspire Oman’s youth and support our community. The initiative is designed to act as a bridge, helping aspiring entrepreneurs to become SMEs and, perhaps, the great companies of tomorrow, thereby contributing to the Sultanate’s diversification strategy and helping to generate employment. I encourage all participants to learn from this experience and seek access to the right mentoring and guidance whilst chasing their dream of becoming successful business owners one day. We look forward to launching the second edition of the competition in 2016.”

The business idea that won the award aims to convert kinetic energy into useful electricity through a power shoe.

Commenting on the experience, team Eureka, the recipients of the Innovation in SME Award, said: “NBO has provided us with a unique opportunity through the Innovation in SME Award initiative – the experience has not only given us the funding that we needed to bring the project to fruition, but we have also learned so much throughout the journey. We are confident that our business idea will help promote sustainable practices, by converting kinetic energy into useful electricity, and we are immensely proud to be a part of this project.”

In addition to the cash prize, the winning team will also join the bank’s Tijarati SME mentoring programme and be given access to NBO’s training arm, the Academy of Excellence.

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