Held under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU)


[U-START] Competition is a nationwide competition for university and school students’ innovative ideas and startups.

The competition encourages student entrepreneurs with either an innovative or a business startup idea/prototype to present it to a panel of judges.

It is a great opportunity for students to measure their skills against those of their peers, socialize, obtain valuable experience, win prizes, and get exposed to the market and to potential investors and business owners.

Why Participate?


Get the opportunity to showcase your innovative idea to a panel of expert judges with a goal to attract investment and prizes.


Showcase your product to national and international visitors of the IA14 conference.


Network with other like-minded students and share your fun and hustle.


Gain knowledge as founders, investors and industry leaders share their insights through interactive discussions, chats and panels.


Unlock opportunities and connect with our network of investors and corporate partners.

[University Competition]


  • Startup must at least be at the prototyping/MVP phase.
  • Startup must be in operation for no more than 3 years.
  • At least one of the owners must be a part of the university student body.
  • Startup must be under the following focus areas:
    • Environmental sustainability
    • Health and wellbeing
    • Technology

First Round – Deadline: January 15th, 2021

  • Students will submit a short summary of their startup idea and how they plan on being profitable directly on our website.
  • Must contain the following information:

Problem description, proposed solution, advantages of the idea compared to competitors (if there are any competitors), potential customers, startup’s value proposition, pricing and sales strategy, financing plans and their visions for the future.

  • Experienced academicians and Industry professionals will review the applications. The most promising ideas will enter the second round.

Second Round – Live Pitch at IA14

  • The best applicants will then enter the final round of the Startup Competition.
  • The final top three teams will have the chance to win prizes as well as several other valuable resources.
  • Final Event: February 22-24 2021 online.


  • Language – English
  • Maximum 10 slides + Front cover. Any appendices must be included within the 10 slides. (The 10 slides exclude the Front Cover).
  • The Front Cover should include:
    • Startup name and university name
    • Year of operation (If Applicable)
    • Country the startup represents
    • Name of advisor(s)
    • Contact details (e-mail+tel) for the startup members


A good presentation usually has the following content (not necessary in the same order) and these are the key criteria judges are looking for.

  • Concept and Vision including the elevator Pitch: One liner of your product or service
  • Market Opportunity: Define market size & your customer base
  • Problem & Current Solutions
  • Product or Service: Your solution
  • Business Model: Key Revenue Streams
  • Market Approach & Strategy: How you grow your business
  • Team & Key Stakeholders (Investors, Advisors, Partners)
  • Financials
  • Competition
  • Investment: Your ‘Ask’ (funding, mentoring, market access etc) + short use of resources