From courageous whistleblowers, Saudi Arabia’s transformation and Gen Z to AI award winners: GITEX 2019 opens
Game-changing technologies to benefit people of determination as well as major shifts in the international startup industry with the launch of the GITEX G2i Summit and the Supernova Challenge semi-finals.
The 39th edition of GITEX Technology Week and the 4th edition of GITEX Future Stars kicked off today with keynote sessions from internationally renowned whistleblower Tyler Shultz, who exposed fraud at blood-testing startup Theranos, game-changing technologies to benefit people of determination as well as major shifts in the international startup industry with the launch of the GITEX G2i Summit and the Supernova Challenge semi-finals.Making his GITEX debut, keynote speaker and Theranos whistleblower Tyler Shultz recapped his experience at the company that was once tipped to be the next big thing to come out of Silicon Valley.
Drawn to the vision of founder Elizabeth Holmes, Shultz recalled instances where colleagues who raised concerns about the business were immediately fired. Theranos’ devices were meant to save lives, but instead put people’s health at risk.
As he spent more time in the company, Shultz discovered numerous issues with the blood-testing technology and the failing promise of a grand ambition. Shultz confronted Theranos’s leadership about the various issues he foresaw, but was consistently brushed aside. Risking legal fees of up to $500,000, Shultz knew he was potentially jeopardising his career and future by going public against the well-funded startup.
He highlighted the need for employees to demand transparency and said that whistleblowers will play an important role in the technology industry. The inability of businesses to recognise challenges will lead to more Theranos-like scenarios, he said. Employees must also be protected and encouraged to speak up as that will truly help businesses.
Shultz is now the subject of an internationally acclaimed documentary, “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.”At a special ceremony, Mariam Othman, chief executive officer of the Rashid Centre for People of Determination, launched a smart communications and collaboration platform for special needs institutions, co-developed with Avaya.The solution will help streamline communications between staff, students and parents and aims to improve learning experiences, enhance student safety and simplify the Centre’s administration.
The platform aims to make remote learning and virtual classrooms a reality and features inbuilt fleet management which can track school buses in real-time, giving parents peace of mind while their children are being transported to and from the Centre.
“It has been our vision to use technology to elevate the quality of education and care that we provide to this inspiring segment of society. We thank Avaya who have partnered with us to design a truly unique solution that makes our vision a reality,” - Mrs. Othman.
Appealing to the technology industry to make ‘accessibility for all’ a guiding principle in solution design, Nidal Abou-Ltaif, president, Avaya International said, “Communication is at the core of the human experience and we believe it should be a fundamental right for any individual, irrespective of their abilities.”From a Kingdom of oil to a Kingdom of startups, the Saudi Arabia startup ecosystem is growing at a fast pace. This increase in opportunities for young Saudis is becoming clear through the number of increased deals, investments, investors and government entities powering the startup ecosystem. Saudi Arabia is proving to be a market that offers access to capital, talent and a stellar network of opportunity.
During an in-depth panel discussion today, Dr. Nabeel Kishak, CEO Saudi Venture capital company (SVC) said that after just one year, the firm has approved 14 new VC funds totalling around $650 million.
Nawaf Al Sahhaf, CEO Business Incubators and Accelerators Company (BIAC) said that according to a recently launched MAGNiTT report, the market is seeing an 80% increase year-on-year in startup ventures.
Esam Al Thukair, Vice Governor, Entrepreneurship, Monsha’at (SME General Authority) said that all initiatives that have been set in place are helping small businesses and startups to overcome the key obstacles of funding, regulation and access to market.
Othman Aldahash, Vice President, Corporate Development, STC Group touched on the importance of startups relying on the latest technologies such as 5G, IoT and analytics to kick-start their journey.
Highlighting the importance of remaining up to speed in an ever-evolving world, Accenture Digital’s Mike Sutcliff used his GITEX keynote to put the spotlight on the ways that personalisation has taken on a new level of importance in the customer experience.