Young Omanis leading charge to progress through innovation

They work independently from each other. Some worked with a group filling in different functions and responsibilities while others do it on their own. It’s easy to label them all millennials but while the term comes with negative connotation, these are young Omanis who have a pretty good idea of how they want their future to look like — a world where services are seamless and what was a challenge in the past, is an opportunity just waiting for a perfect solution.

Their group names were self-selected and the majority of them choose names based on what they do. While there’s almost a dozen of them vying to win the Glasspoint Innovation Spur Program, these six looked into what Oman needs hoping to fill in the gap in the system.
The start-up incubation initiative is currently ongoing in partnership with The Research Council (TRC), Innovation Park Muscat (IPM), Public Authority for SME Development (Riyada) and the Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah). Of the 140 applicants from across the Sultanate, only very few were identified to have the potential to become solid start-ups.

The challenge posed by Glasspoint was not an easy one — for young innovators to develop inventions that could lead to viable renewable energy and water management businesses in Oman. A supplier of solar energy solutions for the industry, Glasspoint itself was a start-up in Silicon Valley in California and from its humble beginning, is now a global leader who encourages the youth to follow in its footsteps of devising renewable initiatives.
The Innovation Spur programme is aimed at developing local business ventures to help strengthen Oman’s position as a global hub for renewable energy and innovation. Through the programme, Omani trendsetters are given access to an integrated ecosystem of scientific, technical and business support. The two-year programme equips participants with valuable skill sets through coaching and mentorship, as they transform their innovations into implementable businesses.
“The GlassPoint Innovation Spur program is designed to encourage Omani talent to be innovation-driven in their pursuit of business success.

These promising innovators are supporting to create a blueprint for Oman’s renewable energy and water management sectors. We are following their progress with great interest and look forward to seeing their projects contribute to the Sultanate’s status as a progressive market for sustainability practices.” said Badar al Sariri, Country Director, Oman at GlassPoint.
Divided into two themes, the Renewable energy theme covers categories such as renewable energy solutions for domestic use, cooling and air-conditioning systems, energy efficiency, as well as enhanced energy generation and storage while the Water management theme focuses on identifying solutions for water management and collection techniques for domestic use.
So what innovations are some young Omanis coming up?

Solid Waste Recycling Unit
Made up of Safa al Wardi, Sheikha al Qassabi, Huriya al Mawali, Afraa Hamed al Mawali and Sumaya al Aufi, the team is building on the technology used in other countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.

With their initiative, they aim to recycle waste from sewage treatment plants (STPs) and turn it into energy and other valuable products, such as methane, fertilizers, industrial ash, and steam.
The team rationalises that every wilayat in Oman is expected to have at least one STP, and this is in addition to every industrial zone and port. With STPs expected to grow rapidly in number and size over the next five years due to the increased demand for water recycling, they believe that they are in the precipice of something big.
Solid Waste Recycling Unit will be working on designing and manufacturing a modified version to suit operating conditions in Oman. Once successful, the team will look to provide their solution to a wide range of customers based on their STP demands.

Climate change and water shortage have been identified as two of Oman’s most pressing environmental challenges. It is with this consideration that the team made up of
Shifa al Shaqsi, Asmahan al Siyabi, Abdullah al Rawahi and Salim al Habsi came up with Ecotech that features a smart greenhouse system that grows plants for domestic use in an air environment, without the use of soil or soil aggregate using energy and water efficient components.
Allowing people to manage farming processes remotely via an app, the smart greenhouse with solar panels retains a temperature of between 15 to 25 degrees Celsius. Date palm leaves, a major green waste challenge, are recycled into cooling pads. The greenhouse also shows the amount of water consumed and how much is remaining.
Ecotech’s technology uses 95% less water than regular farms. Everyone in the Sultanate can use the system including homeowners, farm owners and investors.

Smart Window
For trio Omar al Reesi, Walid al Saidi and Nasser al Shukili, Smart Window is their way of improving lives considering Oman’s challenging weather conditions.
With the technology they are proposing, Smart Window will use passive cooling techniques, sensors, and automatic solar shading controls which allow homes and offices to cool down in the summer and warm in the winter, increasing the energy efficiency of households. It is the first time the technology has been turned into smart technology with automatic control. The window prevents condensation from occurring, additionally, its shading system reduces heat gain.

Automated Irrigation System
Maryam al Kaabi is single-handedly looking to making farming an easy task for Oman’s food producers. Her Automated Irrigation System idea is a smart irrigation system for residential and commercial use that saves water by using special sensors to monitor rain, moisture and evaporation levels.
The project will contribute to solving a very important challenge in Oman, which is the overuse of water resources. The system operates automatically and conserves water use, overcoming challenges related to irrigation in the past.
The system can be used by homeowners and farmers alike. It will increase production and quality using small amounts of water and the conservation of plants from fungi resulting from the imbalance of moisture in the soil. This unique system has not been implemented before and combines many techniques and intelligent features to make it smarter and responsive to evolving user needs.

Global Reliance Line
Relying on the sun for its energy source, Global Reliance Line being worked on by Maan al Asfoor treats polluted or contaminated water, turning it into drinking water for small-scale residential use. The project aims to provide clean drinking water to enhance people’s well-being and quality of life. The technology will harness solar energy to provide drinking water and will mostly be of benefit to arid regions in Oman.
Although not a new technology, Maan builds on previous successful innovations. The focus is to benefit the Sultanate through the creation of local jobs and at the same time, build a global footprint and enhance Oman’s capabilities as a hub for innovation.

HomTric composed of Hamda al Balushi, Muaath al Shihi, Safa al Hashimi, and Alreem al Farsi plans to tackle the overuse of energy, which is releasing high levels of pollution and CO2 into the atmosphere.
The group is building a device to enable homeowners and electric companies to monitor and control energy consumption by converting electric metres to smart metres. It will collect and send data from electricity metres to utility companies, meaning users can monitor their power consumption on a daily basis. They will also be able to take advantage of an efficient real-time billing system, which uses IoT (Internet of Things) applications.
The team’s long-term plan is to expand its operations to cover projects such as solar power plants and water meters. Its mobile application will have more features to provide the best user experience and to increase the efficiency of using resources.

Successfully making it into the shortlist, these six teams will spend three months in the ‘Spur Workout’ phase which started on February 24, 2019. It is designed to prepare them for the final pitch by building their full business plan and be eligible to enter the one year ‘Spur Incubation’ phase to establish their projects. The final three teams that advance will be awarded a combined total of up to OMR 45,000 for further development and testing. Upon graduating from the incubation phase, they will be linked to investors for growth and business upscaling.

Oman Observer