The arrival of a baby for one of the contestants matched the show’s theme of new beginnings as the Grand Finale looms
For the first time in its history, Qatar Foundation’s innovation TV show Stars of Science has witnessed the birth of a child – meaning this was truly a week of new beginnings for its group of young Arab innovators.
The news of the arrival of contestant Nuha Abu Yousef’s son Elias brought both happiness and inspiration for the show’s four remaining contenders in the penultimate episode of Season 11, and also brought a new flavor to the pioneering program for its followers as they shared in her personal joy – with her good news proving that women can balance innovation and creativity with being a mum.
On the innovation front, this week saw the show reach the crucial Model Testing stage, meaning tension and anxiety for all the contestants – Abu Yousef, Abdulrahman Saleh Khamis, Youssef El Azouzi, and Husam Sameer – who knew only three of them would make it through to the Grand Finale.
There was no room for error, and no prospect of turning back, as the tech products developed by the quartet underwent stringent tests to determine their viability and their capacity to meet the needs of consumer, the last hurdle to cross before moving to the commercialization stage.
Making this stage even tougher were the questions from experts of the caliber of Dr. Ahmed Elmagarmid, Executive Director of Qatar Computing Research Institute, and Omar Al Ansari, Secretary General of the Qatar Research, Development and Innovation Council, who quizzed contestants on the scientific, practical, and marketing aspects of their innovations.
However, the contestants rose to the occasion, all of them emphasizing that building a career in the world of innovation is their prime motivation, and that they have already shown the strength of their commitment through reaching this stage of Stars of Science. They made it clear to the judges that, after coming through so many challenges on the show, they deserve to be where they are.
However, one contestant had to make way, and it was Sameer, who failed to convince the jury that his Efficient Comfort Concrete Panels could pass the practicality test, especially in the face of questioning from Engineer Meshal Al Shamari, Director of Qatar Green Building Council. Despite his best efforts, the scores he received were not high enough to give him a chance of making it through to the final.
But Khamis had better luck, overcoming the challenges that emerged from the testing of his Interactive Educational Prayer Carpet in Minaretein (Education City Mosque), and promising to improve its cost-efficiency, weight, foldability, and ability to be used by children. One of Khamis’ strengths is the flexibility of his innovation and its prospects for development, as well as his dedication – as he explained on the show, he has resigned from his full-time job to follow his dream of making his mark in the world of innovation.
Despite the tension, Abu Yousef was confident of being among the final three, telling the judges she had become even more determined to make it to the final with her new technique to support eyelid movement for Bell’s palsy patient after giving birth to Elias. She gave her new baby a smile when the panel asked her if she thought that, in 18 years’ time, he might be a scientist himself.
For El Azouzi, his self-confidence contrasted with some concerns from the judges about his blood flow modulator stent invention. Describing himself as “a ferocious lion” as he defended his innovation, he found himself caught in a long discussion with the panel about the cost of the stent if it was to be used in developing countries. However, El Azouzi came through it, saying he had undergone “a 18-degree shift” since the first episode, and convincing the jury that he will be able to transform his innovation into a marketable product over the next four years, and that it will help to heal people.
The penultimate episode also welcomed back someone who knows what it takes to be a Stars of Science champion, Dr. Walid Albanna, who emerged victorious from Season 10 and returned to co-host alongside Khalid Al Jumaily. He came out on the contestants’ side, defending their innovations, and also making it clear that he fancies becoming a future judge on the show.
So now all eyes turn to the Grand Finale of Season 11 of Stars of Science, with contestants battling it out to win a share of $600,000 in funding to develop their product. Online voting is available on the show’s website, www.starsofscience.com until 12pm GMT (3pm Qatar time) on Wednesday, November 6. And remember – it’s your votes that play a crucial role in deciding who becomes the latest winner of Stars of Science.