Friday, September 28, 2007

Big Business Idea Competition Gala

Entries to the TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition (, the largest technology-focused business plan competition in the Gulf region, closed late last week. Backed by Ericsson, Nawras, NCR, GroFin, Infocomm and OER, this year’s competition final and Gala Dinner will take place 28 October at the Crowne Plaza Hotel under the patronage of HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

“The four finalists will present power pitches to the judging panel at the Gala Dinner. The panel of judges will then make their final deliberations and announce the 2007 winner,” said Mohammed Al Maskari, Director General, Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM).

This year the competition has a top prize of RO6,000 awarded to the winning business plan. The winner is also granted 12 months rent free office accommodation in the TKM incubator program based at KOM.

"We welcome entries from anyone - individuals, teams, new companies, colleges creating spin-offs, scientists, students and entrepreneurs - with a good, innovative idea for a science, technology, medical or design-based business," commented the KOM Director General.
The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition is not just about the competition itself. Former entrants have used the event as a launch pad to raise investment for their ventures, and the competition’s finalists, particularly, benefit from the additional exposure they receive at the annual Gala Dinner, which provides them with instant access to an audience of influential business angels and venture capitalists seeking new investment opportunities.

One company that has benefited in this way is Qumreiyat who is developing a dynamic tourism portal. Qumreyat’s Zawan Al Sabti was one of three responsible for presenting the prize-winning pitch at last year’s final, she commented: “The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition provided our start-up with a great opportunity. We were able to present our initial ideas on business strategy and receive valuable feedback from experienced professionals on how best to take the company forward. Since presenting at the final in 2006 the team have followed up on interest expressed by several organizations who attended the event.”

Al Sabti’s colleague, Majda Al Hinai, agrees that the competition provides an invaluable opportunity for young Omani entrepreneurs. “Qumreiyat has attracted a significant amount of interest since its launch and taking up residency in the TKM incubator program at KOM. The competition provided the focus the team needed to define its business strategy. The document we had to produce was a valuable starting point on which to build the broader plan for the launch. Our appearance at last year’s final clearly raised the company’s profile to a national level, something we could not have achieved so quickly on our own.”

Al Maskari, organiser of the TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition added: “The quality of entries is very high and our experienced judges are not easily impressed, so getting to the final is a significant achievement, and one which is recognised by potential domestic and regional investors.”

The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition has been helping to raise the profile of start-up and spinout organisations since its inception in 2006 by providing valuable exposure for growing businesses and access to a wide range of resources, advice and guidance through its seminar programme and networking activities. The competition is free of charge and open to all Omani nationals.

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