The show’s latest winner is the first Moroccan to be named the Arab world’s top inventor.
When Youssef El Azouzi decided to travel outside his homeland to seek investors who would support a medical innovation he was working on, he had no idea his journey would ultimately lead him back to the Arab world – and to Stars of Science.
The 27-year-old Moroccan doctor has claimed the title of best Arab innovator on Season 11 of Qatar Foundation’s TV show, having won over its jury and captured the largest percentage of the public vote with his Flow Modulator Stent invention – which helps to prevent heart failure – as revealed on Friday’s Grand Final.
And retracing the path he took to Stars of Science victory, El Azouzi says: “Initially, I went to California and met some potential investors, until one of my friends told me about Stars of Science, a unique program that supports Arab innovators.
“At that time, I had no idea that this kind of reality TV show existed, and when I came home, I searched for the show and looked at some episodes from previous seasons. So I decided to participate.”
That decision has certainly paid off, with El Azouzi saying: “Becoming the top Arab innovator is only the first step in my journey to achieve my dream.
I am honored to be the first Moroccan to win the show, and my journey will not stop here.
“Having such a dream can ignite your enthusiasm and increase your abilities, and I believe what comes next will be even better. I am honored to be the first Moroccan to win the show, and my journey will not stop here – I will look to apply the project on the ground and prove its success. which I hope will see it make an impact in the medical field and on the methods of treatment for heart patients.”
The dream that El Azouzi refers to is one he has had since childhood. Before entering Stars of Science, he put his medical career on hold for 18 months to focus on developing his idea – an idea that he is now well-placed to take to new heights.
“During Stars of Science, I had the opportunity to meet people from different fields and work with experts in various disciplines, whether in industry, mechanical engineering, or materials engineering, as well as with doctors and surgeons,” he says. “I benefited from their knowledge and experience.
The competition with the other participants in the program has not been easy at all, and what is more important to me than the award are the relationships I have formed during the show.
"The competition with the other participants in the program has not been easy at all, and what is more important to me than the award are the relationships I have formed during the show.
"Throughout Stars of Science, I had many difficult moments and challenges, but I did not give up. Although I had already gone through many stages in the implementation of my idea, being on the show has allowed me to reach an important stage, as we have developed the project from a digital simulation to a concrete product. This step cannot be underestimated.”
In the Grand Final, El Azouzi could not hide his feelings when he watched a video prepared by the Stars of Science team about his experience during the season, saying: "I have never experienced such a moment in my life before, with my feelings overflowing as I heard what my parents said in the video.
“I am thrilled that my family was the first to share my achievement, as they were the first to believe in my invention as much as I believe in it. I was encouraged by my parents from a young age, and this has had a big impact on my personality. It is the main reason for my success today."
One of the people behind El Azouzi’s first steps in innovation was his father, Dr. Mustapha El-Azouzi, a professor of neurosurgery, who, speaking about his son's Stars of Science victory, said: "My sense of happiness and pride is indescribable – this result did not happen by chance, but through perseverance, study, diligence, and the pursuit of excellence.
"I believe that Youssef will have a great future in the field of science. The Arab world needs scientists like him. I’m grateful to Qatar Foundation for its support of young people and their ideas, which has opened the doors for them to unlock their capabilities.
“I hope that every Arab country will follow the example Qatar Foundation has set, which makes me proud as an Arab. For Youssef, Stars of Science is the end of the beginning, and will see him set out on a long journey ahead.”
Also central to El Azouzi’s success have been his mother, Alaa Hopkins, who taught him to excel in his studies from a young age, and his wife Assia Zaydouni, who has supported him every step of the way.
I have always been proud of him. He has always been self-confident and persistent in his work. He was determined to do this.
"I am very happy about Youssef's achievement and I know the joy and hope that millions of people with heart disease will feel, because of the need for this kind of treatment," said Mrs. Hopkins.
"I have always been proud of him. He has always been confident and persistent in his work. He was determined to do this. And I'm very proud to have a program like Stars of Science in this part of the world.
“As someone who is also in the medical field, and as a mother who recognizes the needs and aspirations of her son, I realized that I have to support him in his great ideas. Since Youssef finished his studies in medical school, he had great ideas to share with us, and I always felt this would happen one day.”
Speaking about her husband’s Stars of Science success, Zaydouni said: "I hope this will be the beginning of great things for him – Youssef is ambitious and diligent, and what has impressed me most is that he is always optimistic, always believes in his ideas, and never retreats.
"Youssef deserves this victory. He spent long hours, day and night, working on this project, but was still always keen to spend time with his family and friends."
El Azouzi’s brother Mehdi said: "I'm very proud of my brother; his victory in Stars of Science showed me what can be done with patience and hard work.
“Although I had some doubts about whether the project would reach this stage, Youssef proved to me that I was wrong and that everything can be achieved if we believed in it. As a family, we would have been happy with any result, because the mere fact that my brother reached the final was a matter of pride in itself. We were a little worried as we reached the moment the result was announced – but we had a happy ending.
"Youssef deserves this win. He has been working for many years on this project. He even went through financial hardship to get to this moment, and faced many challenges, but he managed to overcome them and achieve what he has achieved.”
And as well as his pride in his brother’s victory, Mehdi El Azouzi also has praise for Stars of Science, saying: “I have seen many programs that support entrepreneurs and researchers, but Stars of Science is unique.
“I was really surprised to know that, in an Arab country, there is such a wonderful program to encourage Arab entrepreneurs, and I thank Qatar Foundation for its support for them.”