From near-gridlocked streets to a creaking water network, Amman is grappling with a long list of development challenges. But a little extra help is now at hand from Meezan, a young company from Jordan that has just won the first edition of the Omraan contest, an international search for tech startups offering the best and most innovative solutions to Jordan’s pressing urban problems.
Meezan has developed technology solutions for building, farming, and energy/water saving for Jordan and the Arab World. They have combined five systems in one unit that incorporates eco-farming, solar renewable energy production, rainwater harvesting, a shading system, and a rooftop insulation system.
Judges for the contest, which is run by the New Cities Foundation, Oasis 500, the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), and the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, selected the winning startup from a shortlist of eight. The team was the recipient of $30,000 of seed funding, as well as a 100-day acceleration program in Amman.
The contest, which was launched this year for the first time, received over 40 applicants from teams around the world who were required to submit innovative solutions using technology to solve the urban challenges of Middle Eastern cities.
The teams pitched their ideas via Skype presentations to Oasis 500 CEO Yousef Hamidaddin. They were required to demonstrate innovative use of technologies including mobile, web, cloud, e-commerce, gaming, entertainment, enterprise software, digital news, digital advertising, or social networks.
John Rossant, chairman of the New Cities Foundation, was impressed by the contestants and their ideas. “This first Omraan shortlist captures the wide array of urban challenges that can be tackled if bright minds come together to use technology in smart and new ways,” he said, adding that he looks forward to seeing the winning startup turn its idea into reality.
A second round of the Omraan contest will be held later this year, with winners to be announced in early 2015.