Startup Week, the internationally travelling event that celebrates entrepreneurial communities in cities all over the world, launched in Amman this month, the first time that it has been hosted in the Arab World.
Over the course of a week, the festival saw 800 attendees and over 20 speakers across 24 different events.
Taking place at Zain Innovation Campus (ZINC), the week intended to shed light on Jordan’s entrepreneurial challenges, needs and successes.
“Startup Week is like a festival or carnival that celebrates the entrepreneurial community of a particular city” said Ali Hilli, Startup Week’s lead organizer. The event was organized by Startup Weekend Amman (SWA) and Zain Jordan.
The events were divided into 11 different tracks including financial, startup, design, and technology. Field visits were also organized as part of the tour track in which participants got the chance to visit Oasis 500, Arabia Weather, and Gaming Lab, all of which are located in King Hussein Business Park (KHBP).
On the first day, keynote speaker Fadi Ghandour, Wamda’s chairman, encouraged big corporations to walk hand in hand with startups and be part of the Corporate Entrepreneurial Responsibility (CER). Entrepreneurship is a grassroots solution to poverty and unemployment, he explained.
Startup Week is a worldwide initiative backed up by Techstars, a worldwide hub for entrepreneurs. Techstars also manages other programs including Startup Weekend, Startup Next and Startup Digest, in addition to its acceleration and investment tracks.
In 2015, Startup Week was hosted by 10 different countries in more than 20 cities. This year 75 communities are hosting the event in different locations including London, Thailand, Australia, US, and Greece.
The Battle Track event had competitors like Careem and She Cab getting the chance to talk about their competitive advantages in front of an audience.
While some might consider competition a rivalry, Ghassan Halaweh, battle track mediator and Zain’s innovation advisor, believes otherwise. “If we want to build a successful ecosystem, we need to believe in collaboration instead of competition” he said.
During the last three days, Startup Week Amman held its corporate edition. It involved 60 participants forming teams having to develop solutions to nine corporate challenges presented by six Jordanian corporations including Zain, Arab Islamic Bank and Aramex.
Most of the challenges were related to developing apps that could provide technical assistance to the corporations. For example, Aramex asked for an application that would allow freelance couriers to register with Aramex.
The winners would receive JD 500 ($700) each and be allowed to take their idea into implementation.
Beirut is set to host another Startup Week this year.