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Story | Research
3 November 2020

Stars of Science alumni is shaping the future of cooking


First Qatari winner of QF TV show launches smart cooking robot in US, Canada, and Qatar

Khalid M. Aboujassoum – the winner of Qatar Foundation’s Stars of Science season 4 – has officially taken his innovation “Oliver” to the world. Launching the product he developed on the TV show in 2012 on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, it is available to purchase in the US, Canada, and Qatar.

Oliver is a smart cooking robot that can fry, steam, stir, simmer, sauté, braise, mix, boil, poach, and bake; it is a unique kitchen appliance that is part meal planner, expert chef, recipe library, and shopping assistant.

Since winning the show, Aboujassoum has been dedicated to developing the innovation with the end-goal of launching it on the market. “After winning, I decided to take the entrepreneurial path of introducing Oliver to the market, instead of taking the academic research path or joining an innovation team in a large corporation. It is the less-traveled road because, with start-ups, you are always working against the odds.

Khalid M. Aboujassoum – the winner of Qatar Foundation’s Stars of Science season 4.

“This decision marked the beginning of a new phase in Oliver’s journey beyond the walls of Stars of Science, and I built on the product development knowledge that I had gained on the show. At times, it has been overwhelming, but we have come a long way despite the challenges.”

The concept of Oliver – initially branded Tahi – originated when he was at college. Where, like many college students, Aboujassoum struggled to find time to prepare healthy meals.

“When I conceived the idea of Oliver, I had a rough sketch of how the system could potentially look. And Stars of Science provided an opportunity for that sketch to be turned into a proof-of-concept functional prototype,” he explains.

During his time on the show, Aboujassoum’s product went through four phases – proof of concept; engineering; design; and business development and marketing – each of which was uniquely designed to help turn ideas into a reality.

“Stars of Science taught me the principles of validated learning and the interactive nature of product development. In every phase, we were given access to technical expertise and logistical support to help us execute our projects. The process sharpened our ability to ask the right questions at the right time, to get to the right result, especially with the added pressure of deadlines.

“The experience enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of the product development process, especially when it involved building a physical product. It was a stepping stone in Oliver’s journey, enabling us to be where we are today.”

For Aboujassoum, the ultimate goal is to empower people to eat well, and Oliver is the first step in fulfilling this mission. “Its patented technology creates an unprecedented experience enabling us to eat well and drive the kitchen into the modern age. As we move forward, we plan to spearhead this space and double down on our efforts to accomplish this mission.”

Season 12 of Stars of Science is currently airing across the Middle East and North Africa. And over the next few weeks, the contestants will work on their projects at the state-of-the-art shared innovation space at Qatar Science & Technology Park, part of Qatar Foundation, in a bid to secure a place in the Grand Final.

“Stars of Science is a true representation of Qatar Foundation’s commitment to unlocking human potential,” explains Aboujassoum. “It provides a one-of-a-kind platform for young Arab innovators to express themselves, which is extremely empowering. And it can serve as a gateway to overcome many of the challenges we are experiencing in the region.”

Pick a recipe from Oliver’s library, prep ingredients, load jars, and tap “cook”.

Speaking to this year’s contestants, Aboujassoum says: “Focus on the journey and not the output – the Stars of Science experience itself is the real reward.

“Today, you benefit from more than a decade of accumulated experience nurturing novel ideas and taking them through a rigorous validation process for their scientific merit. It is an unprecedented opportunity to learn, and the format of the program will transform you as a participant, regardless of how you rank in the competition. This is why you should focus on the journey itself and learn as much as you can from it.”

Oliver is available for pre-order on Indiegogo for $579 USD, and will retail at $1,029 USD. Shipping to the US and Canada is set to for 2021, while Oliver’s availability in Qatar is set to be June 2022. For more information, or to pre-order the product, please visit:

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