Mobile diabetes management tool wins 2013 HCT-Wharton Innovation Tournament

6 years

An innovation which connects diabetic patients with caregivers via an interactive, online community is the winner of the 2013 edition of the HCT-Wharton Innovation Tournament 2021, held in Abu Dhabi.

The DiaLife concept, from a group of tech-savvy entrepreneurs in Algeria, took out the first prize of AED30,000 which, according to team representative Amine Bounoughaz, will be invested towards developing the product on a MENA-wide basis. “We are really very happy with our win. It’s been a great competition and a fantastic initiative to help innovations in the region,” Amine said.

DiaLife representative Amine Bounoughaz shows off the winner's cheque for AED30,000 with Wharton Professor Karl Ulrich and HCT Associate Provost Sultan Karmostaji.
DiaLife representative Amine Bounoughaz shows off the winner’s cheque for AED30,000 with Wharton Professor Karl Ulrich and HCT Associate Provost Sultan Karmostaji.

Mr. Bounoughaz dedicated the win to his family, which saw his grandfather die of a diabetes-related illness, and his business partner who suffers from diabetes.

The winning concept incorporates DiaLife Mobile, an mhealth solution that tracks glucose readings and email them to doctors, as well as a DiaBox, which is a tiny wireless hardware device that automatically transfers glucose readings from the glucometer to the smartphone/computer, thereby eliminating the pain of manually entering data.

The Tournament’s 2nd prize of AED20,000 went to the Egypt-based Madad concept which is an online portal assisting the public to decide how and where to donate funds to charities by providing a gateway for all donations and thereby supporting organizations and NGOs in their contribution to society. Madad’s chief financial officer Sherif Yacoub described how the social service would provide videos and other information on various projects to aid the public with their decisions on charitable donations.

Madad representative Sherif Yacoub shows off the 2nd-place winner's cheque.
Madad representative Sherif Yacoub shows off the 2nd-place winner’s cheque.

Mr. Yacoub said the prize money would be a great boost for the venture which is seeking to launch its services this Ramadan. “We have been developing this system for one and a half years and we’ve come a long way, so this money will really help us move forward. We know the pain of setting up an NGO and we have felt the pain of getting something started, so this win will really facilitate what we want to achieve. Before this, we were looking at going to crowd funding, but now we won’t have to leverage that,” he said.

The elated team from HCT Fujairah Women’s College took out third prize of AED15, 000 for their creative entry of a Recycle Bin, which was based on the need to care for the environment at Khorfakkan. It encourages people to recycle plastic bottles in return for shopping and gift coupons.  Omar Ayyash, Fujairah Women’s College Business faculty mentor said the students were thrilled with the win.

HCT-Fujairah Women's College team members Khawla Mohamed Al-Mur and Aisha Mohamed Rashid Al Shehhi with their 3rd-place cheque for their concept, Recycle Bin.
HCT-Fujairah Women’s College team members Khawla Mohamed Al-Mur and Aisha Mohamed Rashid Al Shehhi with their 3rd-place cheque for their concept, Recycle Bin.

“They have a real passion for creativity and innovation and this tournament was a perfect example of them learning by doing, which we teach as part of the HCT courses,” he said. “We are able to show that entrepreneurship is a viable career option for our students and the Wharton tournament is a great opportunity for them to learn how to connect with incubators that can start their own businesses,” he said.

Fourth place went to the Student Initiative for Integrated Rural Development (SIIRD), based in Uttarakhand, India, which uses students’ volunteer work and input to help a rural village with different initiatives, such as boosting the local economy and improved educational opportunities.

SIIRD team member from India, Uday Bhardwaj celebrates 4th place in the Tournament.
SIIRD team member from India, Uday Bhardwaj celebrates 4th place in the Tournament.

For team member Uday Bhardwaj, who was making his first trip out of India, the AED10,000 prize was a significant boost to the business model. “We were facing some money problems and this will keep us going for the next 4-5 months and allow us to sort things out, so we are very happy with the result,” he said.

The Tournament was also the first time that a high school team, from Wellington International School in Dubai, entered into the competition and made it to the finals. The team’s innovation was to create a water purification system, using concrete canals, for human use and consumption in Yemen where about 60 per cent of the population suffer from a lack of clean, potable water.

The winners were:

  • First place AED30,000 – DiaLife (Algeria)
  • Second place AED20,000 – Madad (Egypt)
  • Third place AED15,000 – Recycle Bin (UAE)
  • Fourth place AED10,000 – SIIRD (India)

The eleven submissions were scored on a scale of 1-5 (worst to best), on the following criteria:

  • Need: How significant is the need identified by the submitter?
  • Solution: How good is the solution proposed by the submitter?
  • Novelty: How interesting or novel is the solution?
  • Implementation: To what extent has the submitter implemented the innovation and resolved the major uncertainty associated with it?
  • Overall score:  The overall assessment fo the innovation.

Professor Ulrich said the Innovation Tournament was borne out of the concept of finding a number of raw, or new, opportunities for innovations and then applying some filters, such as need, solution, novelty, to ascertain if the proposed innovation is viable in the future.

He said the six judges were very impressed with the standard of the projects, which demonstrated some very high skills from many different regions. “We had double the number of entries from last year and the quality of entries has been very high. It’s been a great experience for us,” he said.

While HCT Provost Dr. Marshall Drummond said he was very proud of the six HCT teams to make the finals. “The student entries were of very high quality and we are very proud of our relationship and partnership with Wharton to host this competition. It is an ideal environment for our students to create and develop innovative concepts which can help society in different ways,” he said.

Prior to the semi-finals and finals rounds, Professor Ulrich hosted an intensive workshop yesterday for 50 business executives and HCT  faculty, where he explained the genesis of the Innovation Tournament. In a highly engaging and interactive session, he also discussed how innovations come about from considering the needs of society.

Prof. Ulrich explored the concepts of ‘needs push’ and ‘needs pull’ when considering innovations and how an existing need and an existing solution can combine to create a ‘new innovation’. He devised the definition of an innovation as being “a new match between a solution and a need, and a successful innovation results in the creation of the value”.

In looking at the evolution of innovations throughout society, Prof. Ulrich also considered the impact of internal and external operating structures for a business or organization, adding: “You can all be potential innovators, by making things better in your organisations”.

For more information about the Innovation Tournament visit