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Story | Research
25 October 2019

TV review: Stars of Science contestants have designs on victory


With a double-elimination still fresh in the memory, episode seven of QF’s innovation TV show saw contestants being urged to focus on the big picture of innovation

After the shock elimination experience of the last episode of Stars of Science, which saw two contestants ended their journey on Qatar Foundation’s innovation TV show in one go, the remaining contestants were reeling with nerves as they were challenged to combine artistic beauty and engineering in the product design stage.

Episode seven of Season 11 began with Kuwaiti innovator Sadeq Qasem sharing his experience from the show’s second season, Kuwaiti innovator Sadeq Qasem, as he made it clear that the contestants needed to be focused in their execution while remaining clear-headed in the face of the criticism which would inevitably come their way during this process – and avoid the stress which defines this crucial stage of the competition.

The five remaining contestants – Anfal Al Hamdani, Nuha Abu Youssef, Husam Sameer, Abdulrahman Khamis, and Youssef El Azouzi – were accompanied by a product design team from the Netherlands, whose job it was to help them finalize their prototypes before being presented to the judging panel for evaluation. In building the prototypes, the designers focused on three main objectives: they had to be sturdy and strong, they had to show complete functionality, and they had to appeal to the consumer.

The judging panel held a closed meeting with the designers to hear – in judge Professor Fouad Murad's words – "the true story", where they discussed the nuances of the prototypes, from the materials used to the final product which consumers will hold in their hands. The panel then set three criteria on which the contestants would be judged; the synergy of performance and design, marketability, and the diligence of the contestant.

In the first phase, three contestants presented their prototypes to the judging panel after having succeeded in the testing and branding stages. This was one of the most crucial phases, in which viewers saw Sameer’s heat resistant blocks, Ecoflow, Al Hamdani's machine for deshelling Omani dried lemons, Loomi, and Khamis’ interactive prayer mat, Sajdah, come under the microscope.

What makes this episode unique is that the consumer is at the heart of the evaluation process, whether via audience participation or through the nature of the questions raised by the judging panel, as Professor Murad emphasized by saying: "The aim of Stars of Science is to present a product to the market."

This showed in his discussion with designer Roy Gilsing about the necessity of sustainable production in an age of increasing global awareness of the importance of environmentally-friendly materials. Local and global cultural contexts also matter, as explained by designer Yori Nagtegaal, who said: "The world is becoming a village; we are working here in Qatar with people from the Netherlands, Germany and China with the aim of making lives easier.”

During the presentation, the three contestants discussed each other's prototypes while defending their own before the panel, leading to Khamis beating Al Hamdani and Sameer in the audience vote.

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As for the second phase, between Abu Youssef's medical glasses for nerve palsy in the eye and El Azouzi's treatment for congestive heart failure, the judging panel brought in new criteria that went beyond mere aesthetics and moved toward convenience for prospective patients. Both defended their prototypes, but the final audience vote went to Abu Youssef by a wide margin.

Inevitably, regardless of the final outcome, all the contestants learned not just about innovative design but also about themselves. Qasem emphasized to them the “big picture” of the show and of innovation in general, pointing out that “the true project starts when this one is over”. He highlighted the personal benefits that the show brings to the contestants' character development, which viewers have seen throughout the episodes.

Standing on the stage to hear the judging panel's final decision, Al Hamdani, Khamis, and Sameer learned of Al Hamdani's elimination. But as she fought back tears, she was also defiant and optimistic, saying: "My departure from the show is not the end of my dream."

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