May 20, 2024
2 mins read

Canadian University Dubai students win AED 10K investment for public health innovation

Young entrepreneurs showcase creative solutions to social challenges

A team of students from Canadian University Dubai (CUD) has won AED 10,000 in the form of an incubation grant for an innovation that aims to protect public toilet users from harmful bacteria. The award was sponsored by Bin Owais Holdings and presented to the winning team as part of the university’s annual flagship ‘CUD Innovation Showcase’ initiative. The event served as a platform for students to demonstrate their ground-breaking ideas, engage in insightful discussions, and network with industry leaders. With a focus on fostering creativity, entrepreneurship, and collaboration, the CUD Innovation Showcase aimed to inspire and empower the next generation of innovators.

Developed by a cross-disciplinary group of business students, the winning innovation, known as SafeSeat, is a portable applicator that contains plastic seat covers to protect people from having direct contact with bacteria found on public toilet seats. The product was created as a disruptive business solution in response to a study published by HealthNews, which revealed that some bacteria active on public toilet seats can cause health problems such as urinary tract and gut infections. 

To tackle the problem in a cost-effective and sustainable way, team members Romell Surti, Hanna Gajol, Ayesha Jumani, Rachelle Hombria and Ziad Akiki collaborated to create a solution that offers a unique alternative to other products in the market. Hombria explained, “Unlike most toilet seat covers, where each are individually packed in plastic, we have created a durable and long-lasting applicator that already contains 50 pieces of the seat cover roll. We are using a biodegradable plastic so that it can dissolve when users flush, and when the pack runs out, they can purchase a refill.”

Hombria continued, “Most plastic seat covers require users to cling the seat cover onto the bowl using their bare hands, whereas we have incorporated a hook that reduces the likelihood of people touching bacteria. The product is chemical-free, meaning there is no risk of allergies, irritations, or rashes, unlike seat disinfectant sprays, and the product is convenient to carry and budget-friendly compared to other products of this kind.”

SafeSeat was among eight innovations presented to an esteemed panel of entrepreneurs, business growth experts and industry professionals, which included, Dr. Hashem Salem, CEO of Bin Owais Holdings; Mr. Jummah Buti Saeed Al Ghandi, Entrepreneur and CUD Alumus; Mr. Jacob Puthenparambil, Founder and CEO of Redhill; Mr. Ghazi Al Yaman, Managing Director of Bottle Flip; Dr. Samer Oukaili, Program Director at Escale Labs; and Ms. Sally Fathi, Digital Marketing Professional at Escale Labs.

Ranking second in the competition was Innomind, a virtual reality system designed to counter social issues and anxiety among university students and the broader youth population in the UAE. Placed third in the CUD Innovation Showcase was ChowNow, an innovation aimed at reducing food waste by providing a blind box delivery system that repurposes surplus meals from partner restaurants, mitigating waste and offering customers curated meal options at competitive prices.

The Innovation Showcase was staged in the CUD Incubator, a dedicated hub for entrepreneurship and a nurturing ground for the next generation of leaders. CUD Vice-President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Dima Jamali, remarked, “We recognize that innovation is not just about creating new products or services; it’s about transforming lives and shaping the future, aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. By nurturing a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, we empower our students to become architects of change, driving economic growth, and societal transformation. Our ultimate mission goes beyond mere academic pursuits; it is to grow and galvanize the employability of our students, not only in the UAE but across the region.”

Hosted by Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Entrepreneurship, Dr. Kiran Tangri, the event also featured a keynote address by Dr. Hashem Salem and an inspirational message from Mr. Jummah Buti Saeed Al Ghandi, who encouraged students to seize all opportunities for experiential learning, practice perseverance and resilience, and embrace setbacks as stepping stones towards success.

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