What’s your innovation to a global grand challenge that leverages exponential technology and has potential to impact a billion people in 10 years?


Global Impact Challenges (GICs) are annual competitions organized by geography and theme.  These challenges are an open call to entrepreneurs, leaders, scientists, and engineers with the most innovative ideas for moonshot innovations and startups that can positively impact a billion people in 10 years.

The purpose of the SingularityU MENA GIC is to foster innovations and startups that positively impact the lives of people living in the Middle East and North Africa with an ability to scale and impact a billion people worldwide in 10 years.

The challenge is open to residents and citizens in the MENA region: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Syria, Tunisia, Palestine, Yemen, Sudan, KSA, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq.

What innovation would you develop to solve a global grand challenge within by using exponential technology within the Health, Education, Energy, Agriculture, Transportation, or Fintech industries?

Why host a GIC in the MENA region?

Egypt and the whole MENA region are a natural hub for tech-savvy experts: engineers, programmers, designers, and business professionals. As Haider Ghaleb, our SU Cairo Chapter Ambassador, says: “If Egypt joins the AI era it will leapfrog massively, which is why we are hosting this GIC to help foster exponential technology in our area.” The SingularityU MENA Global Impact Challenge is creating a platform through which local, bright minds can turn their ideas into actions, and eventually products and tools, that will tackle the world’s most urgent problems.

The high unemployment rate, educational gap, gender inequality in the workplace, and issues around water supply and common resource distribution are just some of the main problems that affect and slow down the development of MENA and the world.

The SingularityU MENA GIC urges leaders in the region to contribute to solutions around issues prevalent in their country that can be scaled globally. Startups for this GIC must be working with exponential technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Digital Fabrication, Robotics and Nano-Technology with the aim of finding solutions for our top regional challenges in the industries of Health, Education, Energy, Agriculture, Transportation, and Fintech.

Our Focus

This year’s SingularityU MENA GIC is focusing on Health, Energy, Education, Agriculture, and Transportation (HEEAT) and Fintech. Here are some key statistics and reasons why these are the most demanding industries to tackle for development in the MENA region:

  • Health: MENA region countries spend on average only 8% of their budgets on healthcare.
  • Energy: Most countries in the MENA region are still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Innovation in clean energy is urgently needed, and the MENA region has huge potential for renewable energy considering its abundant availability of solar and wind resources.
  • Education: Currently the MENA region has almost 22 million children out of school, causing unequal access to quality education.
  • Agriculture: Agriculture is a huge challenge in the MENA region as both land and water are scarce leading to the region’s dependency on international markets for key staple food products.
  • Transportation: Low performing transport infrastructure and services in the MENA region have negatively affected trade flows for import/export businesses through higher costs, delays, and uncertainty.
  • Fintech: Even though Egypt has the highest population number of MENA (95 million people), only 14% out of 52% of the total number of adults in the country have a bank account.

Do you have a moonshot idea that tackles one of the areas mentioned above? Can you impact the lives of millions?

Submit your moonshot idea to our SingularityU MENA GIC!


The Shortlisting Process

The top 20 shortlisted finalists of this Global Impact Challenge will be invited to attend a bootcamp held in El Gouna, Egypt from July 19-24, 2019, before the final pitch event.

Young Arabic woman drinking coffee and working online at home

The Bootcamp Objective

The bootcamp will equip the finalists with the latest knowledge within exponential technologies, and prepare them for the final pitch event where they will pitch in front of a panel of judges from Singularity University (SU). The finalists will work hand-in-hand with mentors from SU, former GSP participants, and other subject experts.

The prize

The winner of this GIC will be selected at the final pitch event and secure a full scholarship to attend SU’s Global Startup Program (GSP).

The GSP helps future-focused entrepreneurs transform radical ideas into tangible impact on a global scale. It’s a structured, immersive program offering startup-focused educational resources and world-class mentorship from SU’s faculty, staff, and industry experts—in a safe, nurturing environment. The program aims to scale startups into global businesses.

We want to inspire you to solve the world’s biggest challenges and impact the lives of a billion people.


The 12-Month GSP Journey


4 Weeks of Activate (in person)

  • Expand into ideation at the billion scale
  • Dive deep into bleeding-edge exponential technologies
  • Discover the GGCs, concepts like abundance and 6Ds, and more, while pushing your mind to solve the greatest issues facing our planet
  • Substantially evolve your communication and storytelling skills

4 Weeks of Accelerate (in person)

  • Create a clearly differentiated value proposition
  • Take your vision to prototype through customer validation
  • Build a valid business plan and product roadmap
  • Turn your solution from moonshot idea to minimum viable product (MVP)
  • Develop your go-to-market planning, supported by mentorship and networking

1 Year of Connect (virtually)

  • Leverage SU digital courses, webinars, virtual meetups, and more
  • Work with best-in-class faculty, staff, and mentors
  • Connect with SU’s international Chapters and community
  • Join global meetups



Find more information on the Global Startup Program here.

Dates and timeline

Applications Open: April 22, 2019
Applications Close: June 21, 2019
Finalists Announced: TBD
Bootcamp: July 19-24, 2019
Live Pitch Event & Winners Announced: July 26, 2019


In partnership with:


GIC MENA 2019 El Gouna Logo

GIC MENA 2019 World Youth Forum Logo


GIC MENA 2019 Orascom Logo


GIC MENA 2019 Endure Capital Logo



Organized by:


SingularityU MENA Chapter Logo

Rules & Criteria

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • The challenge is open to residents and citizens of the MENA region
    • Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Syria, Tunisia, Palestine, Yemen, Sudan, KSA, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq.
  • You must be age 21 or older on the first day of the GSP
  • You must be fluent in written and spoken English
  • Able to participate in the Bootcamp in El Gouna, Egypt on from July 19-24, 2019.
  • Your venture is a fully formed entity in seed, idea-stage or scale-up stage and has at least 1-2 full-time co-founders.
  • 50 Applicants will be invited for a virtual interview as finalists will be interviewed by a panel of judges between June 22-30, 2019. You must be available to attend this interview in order to be considered as a finalist.
  • You must be able to participate in the entire Global Startup Program

We will be really thrilled to find:

  • SU mission alignment: You have a startup in one of the global grand challenge (GGC) spaces.
  • Team: Your startup has at least two full-time co-founders.
  • Experience: You have expertise in an exponential technology and/or a key GGC space.
  • Time: Your venture is a fully formed entity, and is in the seed-stage or idea-stage.
  • Traction: You have demonstrated market traction (LOIs, purchase orders, validated trials, sales, etc.).
  • Eagerness to learn: You’re looking for a substantial shift in mindset and skill set, and are eager to globalize your startup and 10x your impact.
  • Availability: You’re available to the GSP Activate (four weeks) phase, and the SU campus in Mountain View for the Accelerate (four weeks) phase.

The GSP is for startups aligned with global grand challenges (GGCs) that want to 10x their current startup and scale it globally. We’re looking for startups that have experience with exponential technology, some level of demonstrated market traction, and an eagerness to radically level-up their business. Cohorts include founders from different countries, backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, and cultures, and you’ll find gender diversity in cohorts representing more than 40 countries.

We will evaluate submissions using the following criteria:

  • Degree of the solution’s relevance to the theme of the challenge
  • The regional relevance in solving the challenge in the MENA region
  • Project or Idea leverages exponential technology to solve the problem
  • Feasibility, viability, and coherence of implementing the idea
  • Impact & compelling need and potential to scale globally
  • Committed existing team
  • CV or resume
  • Summary of accomplishments
  • An abstract of the project idea
  • Video (provide url) of the project idea
  • Applications Open: April 22, 2018
  • Applications Close: June 21, 2019
  • Finalists Announced: TBD
  • Bootcamp: July 19-24, 2019
  • Live Pitch Event & Winners Announced: July 26, 2019

GIC Organizing Team

GIC MENA 2019 Organizer Haider Ghaleb

Haider Ghaleb

SingularityU Cairo Chapter Ambassador
CEO & Cofounder of The D.

Serial tech entrepreneur with a specialization in Artificial Intelligence & Cyber Security. GSP Singularity University Graduate. Worked with MNCs in the Middle East and Europe. B.Sc. in Computer Engineering and Artificial Intelligence specialization from MIT.

GIC MENA 2019 Organizer Roxane Jurkovskaja

Roxane Jurkovskaja

SingularityU Cairo Chapter Leadership
COO & Cofounder of The D.

Roxane is a serial entrepreneur and former UN professional. In her work she focuses on how we can optimize opportunities at the intersection of financial return and social value through innovative thinking, technology, and integrated partnerships. She has worked with a number of international companies in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and spent multiple years consulting the United Nations within social entrepreneurship in emerging economies.

Today She gets up in the morning to work with brilliant and passionate individuals primarily motivated by improving life and making the world a more lasting, fulfilling and sustainable place. M.Sc. Economics, CEMS MIM from NUS, and Artificial Intelligence specialization from MIT.

GIC MENA 2019 Organizer Jean-Christophe Quillet

Jean-Christophe Quillet

SingularityU Cairo Chapter Leadership
2016 SU Global Solutions Program
AI Head of The D.

Jean-Christophe is an experienced multidisciplinary engineer, fusing the two fields of bits and atoms. He specializes in AI from his Mechanical Engineering background applied in the nuclear energy domain. Passionate about how to lead teams to their full potential, he has a vast experience in the topic of exponential technologies and the potential implications they can bring. He also has a masters in Mechanical Engineering from INSA Lyon, France.

GIC MENA 2019 Organizer Tarek Ezz Eldin

Tarek Ezz Eldin

2019 SingularityU MENA GIC Organizer
Business Development Manager

A professional with over 7 years of experience in the Business Development and Sales sectors. Tarek has worked with top-notch companies in the fields of Real Estate, Trading, Software Development and Artificial Intelligence. He has a bachelors in Economics from Middlesex University and an MBA from Cardiff Metropolitan University.

GIC MENA 2019 Organizer Walaa Salem

Walaa Salem

2019 SingularityU MENA GIC Organizer
Marketing & Communications Manager

Serial entrepreneur and qualified marketer with over 10 years experience across Marketing, Fintech, Health, Recruitment, Retail and e-Commerce industries. Walaa holds many Google Marketing Certificates that consists of different achieved skills related to tech, digital marketing, business analysis, sales, project management and training. Walaa has also contributed as a speaker to global events such as Mashable Social Media Day 2015 and Egypreneur Forum.

Frequently Asked Questions

Global Impact Challenges (GICs) are annual incentive competitions held in partnership with sponsor organizations worldwide and organized by geography and theme. These challenges act as a platform to identify outstanding entrepreneurs, technologists and scientists with the most innovative ideas for innovations and startups that can positively impact a billion people in 10 years. The winner of this challenge receives a full sponsorship to attend Singularity University’s 2019 Global Startup Program (GSP).


The GSP is for startups aligned with global grand challenges (GGCs) that want to 10x their current startup and scale it globally. We’re looking for startups that have experience with exponential technology, some level of demonstrated market traction, and an eagerness to radically level-up their business.

Ideal candidates full-time founders with a fully formed entity in the early-stage or seed-stage.

For this GIC, we are looking for early-phase startups or seed-stage startups with innovative ideas in these sectors HEEAT & Fintech.

Intellectual property resulting from a GIC belongs to the applicant(s).

The selection process consists of a total of three phases prior to the start of the bootcamp.

  • The first phase involves a review of all applications submitted until the deadline, where the jury will review them all until filtering them down to determine the first 50 finalists.
  • The second phase, where the jury again review the current 50 first finalists and agree to the shortlisted final 20 potential winners.
  • The third phase involves the final judging, where the winner out of the 20 shortlisted finalists will present his moonshot idea at a pitch event.

Important note about the application process: Individual virtual interviews will be conducted with the first 50 selected applicants during the first phase of the application process. Please note that for startups that are applying with one or more co-founders, each person must send their own separate application, as everyone will be assessed individually.

Yes, there is an expectation for winners to continue working on their winning projects.

SU Cairo Chapter will cover travel and accommodation costs for all finalists that will attend the bootcamp at El Gouna.

While the GSP is fully funded for the GIC winner along with accommodation and meals, the GIC winner is responsible for their own travel expenses to/from SU.

In all cases where a GIC winner cannot attend GSP, the winner forfeits his or her GSP seat to the first runner-up and would then need to reapply for admission in a future year.

For more information, see the Global Solutions Program.


Still have questions?

Get in touch with the SingularityU MENA GIC organizers by emailing them at cairo@chapter.su.org, or contact the Global Impact Challenge team at SU at gic@su.org.