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Ryerson student entrepreneurs bring big ideas to United Arab Emirates

Winners of Ted Rogers School of Management’s Ryerson Global Innovation Challenge strive to make a social impact on a global scale in Dubai

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While some students are spending their reading week relaxing, traveling to sunny destinations, or catching up on their assignments, a small team of 19 Ryerson students are hoping to make a societal impact on a global scale.  

Eleven students from the Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) along with eight students from across other Ryerson faculties, will leave Toronto on Feb. 18 to travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for two weeks. During their visit, they will collaborate with students from the Canadian University Dubai to pitch their social innovation ideas to local business leaders and entrepreneurs, and receive constructive feedback on how to bring their ideas to market.

These students are members of the four winning teams of the second annual Ryerson Global Innovation Challenge, organized by Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) and supported by the Ted Rogers Students’ Society as well as Ryerson University.

“I am extremely proud of the creativity, passion and vision our students have demonstrated in developing socially innovative ideas for the UAE. The opportunity to travel internationally to collaborate with students and business leaders in this region is an example of experiential learning at its finest.  This initiative will help support our students in becoming future global business leaders,” said Dean Steven Murphy.

The four teams were selected from among 12 teams by a panel of judges comprised of Ryerson zone learning leaders and a representative from the Consulate General of UAE. Each team submitted a two-page proposal last fall outlining an innovative solution that aims to improve the health, environment or economic independence of residents living in the Arab region.

“This competition brings students together from different disciplines to develop a strong business idea that has the potential to make a societal impact on a global scale,” said Osman Hamid, director of student engagement and alumni development at TRSM.

Water GY, one of the winning teams from last year’s competition, is now housed in the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science’s iBoost Zone, one of 10 zones at Ryerson University. The team also won $5,000 in seed money for their start-up from the Norman Esch Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship Awards. Another team, Project SAAF, helped local potters in India last month launch their own businesses in making affordable clay-based water filters, giving local residents better access to clean drinking water.

For Revant Kumar, Stack Farm’s project lead and a third-year mechanical engineering student, the competition offers him an opportunity to collaborate with peers from various academic disciplines and with students and local entrepreneurs in the UAE. “This experience will be invaluable in helping our team to develop a better product that we hope will help local residents gain access to fresh, affordable produce,” said Kumar.

The Ryerson Global Innovation Challenge is one of five zone-learning partners and affiliated programs at TRSM and a part of Ryerson’s larger zone-learning ecosystem, a unique form of experiential learning.  The other partners/programs are: the Business Innovation Hub, Sport Innovation Hub, Zone Learning Analytics School, and StartUp School.

The four winning teams are:


To alleviate the country’s dependence on non-renewable energy sources and provide entrepreneurial opportunities to at-risk youth, this team will propose a business plan that aims to teach students how to start their own small businesses by collecting cooking oil waste from local restaurant chains to produce biodiesel fuel, a cleaner alternative to petroleum-based fuel.

Team members:

·         Aisha Chaudhry, Business Management ‘19

·         Omar El Araby, Business Management ‘17

·         Pavneet Sandhu, Business Management ‘17

·         Savreen Gosal, Business Management ‘18

·         Samarth Arabastani, Electrical Engineering ‘18


This student team has created Connect-Us, an online platform designed to connect students and recent graduates in the Arab region together to forge strong professional networks.

Team members:

·         Ayesha Kirami, Business Management ‘17

·         Samra Ramzan, Business Management ‘17

·         Fatima Jiwan, Business Management ‘17

·         Azam Qureshi, Public Administration & Governance ‘17

·         Justin Macpherson, Biomedical Engineering ‘17


Radius is an online management tool that provides young entrepreneurs in UAE’s neighbor, Saudi Arabia, access to the resources, funds and mentorship needed to launch their start-ups.

Team members:

·         Shanghavy Karunakaran, Retail Management ‘17

·         Vilirsa Rajadurai, Business Management ‘17

·         Simba Wakatama, Mechanical Engineering ‘17

·         Carol Xie, Business Management ‘17


To address the issues of growing food in arid climates, this student team has devised an affordable hydroponic system for city dwellers to grow fresh produce that requires less soil and water, lessening their dependence on food imports. Better access to locally grown foods may also encourage residents to maintain a healthier diet, which in turn can lower rates of obesity in the country – currently twice as high as the global average, according to a 2015 World Health Organization report.

Team members:

·         Sofia Ahmed, Chemical Engineering ‘18

·         Revant Kumar, Mechanical Engineering ‘18

·         Lakshmi Menon, Biomedical Science ‘19

·         Christopher Bright, Business Management ‘19

·         Runyi Zhou, Economics and Management Science ‘17


Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University is developing collaborative, creative leaders who will drive 21st century business forward while making a positive impact on society.



Suelan Toye
Media Relations
Ted Rogers School of Management
Office: 416-979-5000 x 3608
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