Sustainability was among the major topics highlighted at the sixth edition of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) 2022, and supported by the Sustainability and Innovation Zone powered by Sharjah Sustainable City. Held on 17-18 December 2022 and organized by Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) under the theme “Where We Belong”, the event featured some of the most advanced innovations in the field and attracted a large number of participants including policymakers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors, artists, and media influencers.
During the festival, the Sustainability and Innovation Zone hosted different booths providing a broader picture of the issues related to sustainability, as well as showcasing practical solutions toward realizing a sustainable future, especially in the Middle East region, which is characterized by scarce freshwater resources, arid environments, and extreme temperatures.
One of the Zone’s primary attractions was the Sharjah Sustainable City booth, where participants converged to learn about this unique initiative that has led to developing the first sustainable master-planned community in the Emirate of Sharjah.
As one of the Enable Partners of the SEF 2022 and in recognition of its valuable contribution to the festival and the areas of sustainability, Sharjah Sustainable City was honoured with a special award at the festival’s opening ceremony. The award was presented by Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) and Najla Al-Midfa, CEO of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), and received by Mr. Yousif Ahmed Al-Mutawa, Chief Executive Officer of Sharjah Sustainable City.
Commenting on the festival, Mr. Yousif Ahmed Al-Mutawa, Chief Executive Officer of Sharjah Sustainable City, said: “The event was an excellent platform to showcase to the world our sustainability journey and highlight years of efforts toward developing the eco-friendly residential city that promotes a lifestyle well-suited to the future. The event and its theme ‘Where We Belong’ aligned well with our continued commitment toward supporting innovation in the UAE and its transition to a sustainable future and reducing the carbon footprint.”
“I congratulate Sheraa and other organizers for the successful event that served as a global entrepreneurship festival and provided an opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas on sustainability, creativity, and innovation, for a diverse group of participants, including youth and women. I also congratulate all the start-ups that we sponsored for showcasing their innovations at the event; I’m sure their contributions will further boost sustainability efforts for a better tomorrow,” added Al-Mutawa.
Supporting Innovation in Sustainability
Over the two days, Sharjah Sustainable City also powered two workshops at the festival’s Startup Town. It included a workshop on empowering creativity through repurposing waste, showing how recyclables such as plastic waste can be transformed into aesthetic items, and another workshop focused on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in sustainability. It explored challenges that SMEs may encounter in implementing sustainability and how to overcome them. Also, participants, which included entrepreneurs, and founders of SMEs, learned how to integrate sustainability into their business operations and strategies.
In line with its efforts toward supporting new ideas and boosting ‘sustainopreneurship’ within the country and beyond, Sharjah Sustainable City also sponsored booths of eight start-ups to help them showcase their valuable work in the areas of sustainability and related fields.
The start-ups, which include FortyGuard, FUSE, Circa Biotech, Nadeera, We4Recycle, Cycled Technologies AS, ZeLoop, and KRISPR, offer a wide range of innovative solutions, including machine platforms to understand temperatures, converting classic cars to electric vehicles (EV), upcycling food waste into high-quality animal feed, solid waste management as well as redefining food commerce from production to consumption.
As part of its commitment to driving discussion around sustainability, Sharjah Sustainable City also participated in a panel session titled “Marhaba: Welcome to Sharjah”. Speaking at the session, Mr. Karim El-Jisr, Chief Sustainability Officer at Diamond Developers / Sharjah Sustainable City, said: “Climate change is taking a large toll on our health, environment, and well-being, making the world a difficult place to live for our future generations. To overcome these challenges, sustainability must be at the core of every business strategy, including the real estate and construction industry. We need to change the way we build, the way we live and how we approach issues such as waste and water management. I’m happy to see that UAE has made huge progress in the face of these challenges and is further accelerating its commitment to boost sustainability sectors. In the Emirate of Sharjah, which has been at the forefront of offering a high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystem, initiatives like Sharjah Sustainable City are among the prime examples of Sharjah’s progress toward sustainable progress.”
Held at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, the biggest yet edition of SEF brought together about 140 globally renowned speakers, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and ecosystem architects and featured some 50 workshops and panel discussions. The event was a not-for-profit festival, and its proceeds will be donated to UAE-based The Big Heart Foundation.