Tech events like GITEX Future Stars make names for themselves by bringing together eclectic collections of startups from around the world. These startups and their founders are essentially pitted against one another in a race for funding and customers, particularly at shows where they are grouped in sectors like ‘Fintech’ and ‘Immersive Technology.’
It then falls to the founders and the company’s representatives to set themselves apart. Large lettering placed front and center at the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation (MiSK), which is an exclusive partner at GITEX Future Stars 2018, posed the question in the most direct way: what makes an innovator?
N.thing, a South Korea-based agrotech startup, has created a hydroponic vertical farming system, the Planty Cube, using modified shipping containers. Operated and fully optimized by software and data, the Cube app remotely controls the farm.
The startup’s website claims that their system can grow 40 times the produce of a regular farm, and positions itself as an eco-friendly solution to the challenge of feeding the growing human population. The product is currently being marketed to restaurants and hotels, but a subsidiary product, the Planty Square, is designed for individual users and works similarly.
Another South Korean early-stage venture, Hicodo, is in the beginning stages of creating the CODOBOX, a software package that can be used to teach coding to young children. The Girls Coding CODOBOX utilizes favorite princess characters to teach coding to young girls and comes with an Arduino Kit containing basic electronic components. The Story Coding box, similar to the Girls Coding box, incorporates famous fairytales and children’s books into its coding lessons.
United Arab Emirates-based co-working space LetsWork is another startup that is racing ahead to cater to the demands of an increasingly mobile workforce. The company operates by collaborating with local coffee shops and venues to open pop-up co-working spaces. Members can enjoy food and beverage discounts and pay per day, while still having access to workshops and community events of the traditional co-working space model.
Judging ‘innovativeness’ is a tricky and subjective task at best, but some startups do stand out from the crowd. Many of the offerings at GITEX Future Stars showed a trend towards forward-looking startups that are looking to address critical issues in society, and support a new generation of consumers who are looking for fresh experiences.