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MENA Innovators Shine at London Business School Competition

Surpluss Wins First Place

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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The London Business School (LBS) MENA Startup Competition 2023 took center stage at the AstroLabs Academy Campus in Dubai last night. The event was attended by an assembly of founders, investors, and mentors from the MENA region.

The essence of this competition was to furnish founders with an invaluable opportunity, a stepping stone for startups, replete with the promise of financial sustenance, expanded market presence, and a shot at the spotlight in the media.

Bader Al-Kharafi, the founder of BNK Holding and Vice Chairman and Group CEO of Zain Group, conveyed his admiration for the event's participants, remarking, "This competition continues to showcase the remarkable entrepreneurial talent in the MENA region, reaffirming our belief in the potential for innovation and growth in this dynamic ecosystem. Witnessing the creativity and dedication of these startups have been inspiring, and I am excited to see their continued progress. BNK Holding remains committed to supporting emerging businesses and the London Business School MENA Startup Competition, and this competition aligns perfectly with our mission to foster entrepreneurship."

With over 90 applications vying for attention, ten seed-stage startups stood tall as finalists, presenting their compelling pitches to a panel of distinguished judges.

 The crown of victory ultimately rested on the head of The Surpluss, a B2B platform facilitating industrial asset exchange. This ingenious startup offers cross-industrial collaboration aimed at transforming under-utilized resources into value. Their reach extends across the UK, Denmark, and the UAE, with ambitious plans to assist 500 UAE companies in taking transformative climate action, reducing their emissions by half by 2030.

Securing honourable positions as the competition runners-up were Zeal, a Cairo-based fintech company, and Hulexo, a UAE-based retail ERP system provider.

Sharif El-Badawi, a discerning judge and the CEO of Dubai Future District Fund, lauded The Surpluss for their groundbreaking innovation, emphasizing, "As venture capitalists and investors, what piques our interest are out-of-the-box and novel business ideations that provide exclusive solutions across the board. Our enthusiasm lies in fostering and elevating such startups, as they are the ones to bring real change to the entrepreneurial frontier in the region."

He continued, "The Surpluss platform has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about and manage industrial waste. It is especially timely given the upcoming COP28 in the UAE, which will focus on accelerating sustainable solutions. We eagerly await to see what Surpluss has in store and look forward to witnessing all the participants ascend to exceptional levels of success."

The triumphant startup, The Surpluss, basked in a financial windfall of $10,000 from BNK Holding KSCC, a privately held shareholding company headquartered in the State of Kuwait. Additional sponsorship packages and awards were showered upon them by Innobayat, AWS Activate, Floward, and AstroLabs.

Addressing the gathering, LBS Dean François Ortalo-Magné said "The school very much looks forward to hearing more about the continued success and future endeavours of these businesses. What heartens me about the LBS MENA Startup Competition is the participation from across the region in this competition and the support the School, its local alumni community, and the IEPC is giving to the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem. We are witnessing, right across MENA, the development of an ecosystem that allows for the fast flow of talent, information, and resources that help entrepreneurs quickly find what they need at each stage of growth."

The London Business School's IEPC, a vital supporter of the competition, offered an invaluable package of support valued at $80,000, including access to training, education, business resources, and the alumni network.

Rana Hajirasouli, the founder of The Surpluss, expressed her elation at winning the competition, which has entered its second year. She remarked, "The Surpluss was created as an answer to the climate change challenges that businesses face. Winning this competition in the Year of Sustainability resonates with our purpose louder. This distinguished award will greatly improve our recognition across the UAE and MENA region, helping us to attract new and exciting opportunities and deepen the strength of our network."

The Other Seven Contenders in the Competition

Ahad: a UAE-based cybersecurity company founded by Muneeb Anjum, Rohan Daniel Nair, and Ankit Satsangi. The startup aids businesses with regulatory compliance, digital transformation, and advanced cybersecurity.

Arab Therapy: A Jordan-based wellness company offering advanced mental health services to Arabs around the world. The platform provides psychological treatment in an easy and convenient manner, connecting users with qualified psychotherapists, and was founded by Tariq Dalbah.

Caena: A startup fundraising marketplace based in the UAE with a mission to level the playing field for finance for all founders, irrespective of their backgrounds.

Dudi: A UAE-based well-being company founded by Hasan Wehbi, Hasan Ajouz, and Mina Litvinova.

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's career empowerment platform based in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

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