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11 October 2019

TV Review: Stars of Science competition heats up as show reaches the Proof of Concept stage

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Fear and stress are the dominant emotions for contestants facing the jury

Following the selection of eight participants to continue their Stars of Science journey in Season 11 of Qatar Foundation’s innovation TV show, the finalists have finally made it to Doha - and to the Stars of Science lab at Qatar Science & Technology Park.

But now they face a new challenge: to turn their ideas into actual products in the show’s Proof of Concept stage. It’s one of the most challenging and critical parts in their journey, and Professor Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, a member of the Stars of Science jury, said: “People assume that moving from concept to product is a quick step – but they eventually end up falling in the valley of death”.

Landing in Doha, all the contestants were full of enthusiasm and excitement, and also amazed by what they have discovered at QSTP, with its facilities and equipment that open all the doors to potential success and everything they need to carry out their projects.

This includes the support and encouragement shown by the guests in this week’s episode, including Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al-Khalifa, Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Development Bank, and Chairman of Bedaya Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Development. “According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Qatar ranked first in 2018 in terms of the readiness of entrepreneurial environment” he said, speaking about the role of Qatar Business Incubator Center in adopting these innovations: “It provides an enabling environment for entrepreneurs and innovators to turn their ideas into real-world projects.”

Stress, pressure, nervous tension and lack of time filled the atmosphere during episode 5, as competitors are now being challenged to prove their ideas can work, and are racing against time to make this happen within a period of just two weeks.

During this limited time, competitors undergo a series of visits by a dedicated team of experts who think out of the box, and technicians who provide them with the necessary support and guidance, in addition to extensive workshops and training, as they prepare to face the jury that will assess how far they have come in proving their idea.

The contest between participants has taken on a new style, especially the evaluation process, which – as well as the jury - involves the studio audience, who give their opinions immediately after each contest without this affecting the final result. The evaluation is based on three basic criteria: novelty, technical feasibility, and readiness.

The contestants were divided into three groups, and the heat of competition started getting more intense. It was no secret that the participants were nervous when they stood before the jury and the audience, which may have affected their ability to answer the questions raised and make a convincing case for their project. Describing her experience, contestant Anfal Al Hamdani said: “I think my whole body was shaking, I did not know why I was terrified - but I knew that fear is always followed by strength”.

The judges did not give participants an easy ride. Their discussions and questions were serious, thorough and scientifically rigorous, reflecting the show’s high standards about who it selects to compete. But the participants stood up to this. Based on the audience evaluation, the first round saw Imadeddine Azzouz and his Health Breath Scanner rank first against Abdullah Alghaitabi and his Fertility Indicator Wristband, and Mohamed Kharrat and his Smart Swimming Shorts.

In the second, medical-focused round, Nuha Abu Yousef’s Active Lazy Eyelid Sticker overcame Youssef El Azouzi and his Flow Modulator Stent. And in the final round, Abdulrahman Saleh Kamis was at the forefront with his Interactive Educational Prayer Carpet, against Al Hamdani with her Dry Lime Auto Extractor, and Husam Sameer and his Efficient Comfort Concrete Panels.

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At the end of this episode, we said our farewell to Alghaitabi, who is from Sudan and, after being unable to successfully convince the jury about his idea, received the lowest vote score from the judges: 41.7%. It wasn’t an easy moment for him, but he said: “I’ve been at a crossroads all my life - I am either in or out,” said Abdullah. “I’ve got mixed feelings; joy and sadness at the same time.” But although he did not make it through, consolation comes from the fact that making this stage of Stars of Science is itself an achievement.

With only seven contestants now left, and the countdown continuing, the level of competition is only set to double - as the competitors find themselves a step closer to taking the Stars of Science crown.

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