The inventions reviewed at the society’s first meeting included Babble, an iPhone application that fosters communications across languages by translating words and more complex phrases into images; as well as Penspire, a system that wirelessly links writing utensils to convey mood and activity – and could one day be used by teachers to monitor their students engagement. The first prize for the best business idea was awarded to NYUAD student Rafael Scharan and his team for EZ MED, a proposal to sell affordable medicines directly to low income people in Brazil utilizing a state-of-the-art logistics infrastructure.
“Encouraging innovation and instilling the values of entrepreneurship are very important in preparing youth for their futures,” says Ramesh Jagannathan, professor of engineering at NYU Abu Dhabi and an organizer of Catalyst. “These values not only benefit participants, but, in the long term, are the seeds that can bring economic growth for broader society. The caliber of the inventions presented during Catalyst’s inaugural event reassure me that we are doing something fundamentally right by engaging with local youth in this way.”
One of the group’s founding student members, and an inventor of Babble, Mark Hoffman, added, “Of course having a good idea is the first step, but real success lies in building a strategy to transform that idea into reality. I think Catalyst will be very valuable in allowing bright young minds from across the UAE to connect with the resources necessary to make this transformation.”
Catalyst will continue to drive innovation as members present new projects and push further into the design of existing strategies for review during monthly meetings. At each point in the process, ideas will be refined to optimize their practicality and ultimate applicability within their targeted market.
Beyond preparing students for their professional careers, NYU envisions this society will one day grow into a global network of business, innovation and developmental connections which will serve as an impetus for global entrepreneurship for many years to come.
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