BuildInk beats host of innovative ideas to win startup contest
Facebook announced construction technology startup BuildInk SAL the winners of the 2018 edition of TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA Wednesday, in a competition held at the Beirut Digital District.
In addition to receiving $25,000 prize money, BuildInk SAL will get the opportunity to compete with winners from other regions on an international stage at the 2019 TechCrunch Disrupt, which will be held in San Francisco.
BuildInk SAL offers cost-effective solutions to construction firms by creating materials with 3D printers.
Using this technology, they were able to construct a single-story building in just one week.
They also create easy-to-install automated pulley systems that can be utilized on construction sites.
The top 15 start-up tech companies in the MENA region, five of whom were representing Lebanon, battled it out Wednesday at the TechCrunch Battlefield.
Both investors and startup founders were drawn to the event, as “all competitors have the chance to expand their brand exposure and networking in their early stage of their development,” BDD’s Programs Director Stephanie Abi Abdallah said.
“Technology investment is growing at an exponential rate, especially taking into consideration groundbreaking systems like AI and automation, and Lebanon is trying its best not to lag behind” she continued.
“It is important for the BDD to create spaces, programs and infrastructure to motivate Lebanese students to engage in learning technology.”
The Silicon Valley-based site TechCrunch aims to develop and integrate new talents in technology across all industries at various worldwide locations including Lebanon and the wider MENA region.
Techcrunch has an impressive track record of producing successful tech start-ups, and their previous events have launched many well-known startups such as the file-storage site Dropbox.
Facebook and Toyota, the event’s main sponsors, sought to establish, create and maintain job opportunities for young talent in all world regions. The annual Battlefield MENA competition allows these companies to gain greater exposure and create new investment opportunities in the region.
“The quality of startups this year is very exceptional and promising” Facebook Engineering Manager Ziad Traboulsi told The Daily Star.
TechCrunch and Facebook aim to develop a global outlook on tech startups and jump-start innovation in areas where opportunities for tech startups are limited. “When something is on a bigger scale, it is always more exciting,” he added.
Facebook’s Developer Circles is a community for local developers established with the aim of connecting their experts with up-and-coming tech creators. Currently the Developer Circles encompass around 100,000 members in 54 countries including Lebanon, which already has 1,400 participants.
Mandali Khalesi, Toyota global head of automated driving mobility and innovation, told The Daily Star “Toyota is going through a big transformation from a car company to a transport services company” and said he believes “The MENA region has a lot of vibrant ideas to offer.”
At this year’s competition in Beirut, many of the participants’ business models were attempting to fill a gap in the Arab market. Harmonica, pitched by Sameh Saleh, is a dating application designed to match trends in Arab relationships.
Finalist Synkers is a mobile application that facilitates communication between student, tutor, and school to create a new innovative learning style.
Naturansa, combining the Turkish words for nature (natura) and cycle (ansa), is a biotechnology platform that converts food waste into edible and sustainable protein.
Seez, another of this year’s finalists, is a mobile application that allows users to search for the best deals on used cars in the UAE.
Seez’s Head of Design and Social, Andrew Kabrit, described the app as “Trivago for cars” and said “if we win we aim to make the team happier so we can produce more.”