16 COBA Students Shine at the STEAM Innovation Challenge by KAUST

COBA student, Nourah Abdullatif, won, together with a team of highly motivated university students from Riyadh, a $7,500 prize check given by the STEAM Innovation Challenge which was held on 20 & 21 October 2017 at Hayat Regency, Riyadh, and organized by KAUST, in partnership with SABB.

Noura, and her 15 male and female students from COBA, took part in the 48 hour intensive student innovation challenge to create solutions (systems, services, or projects) to Saudi, regional and global Fintech problems. The students were divided among 20 multidisciplinary teams that consisted of students from KSU, PNU, KSU, Alfaisal and Prince Abdulrahman bin Faisal University.

The teams worked collaboratively to find creative and innovative solutions to three challenges: management and transfer of money, managing the relationship with bank clients and securing and managing information.

Nourah Abdulatif and her team came up with a bank service they called BeFast, which is an online platform that accelerates the payment and settlement of invoices for small and big businesses. Noticing the lengthy B2B invoicing process that takes around 60 days for a small business to get paid and the amount of distraction for the big businesses by too many invoices and emails sent by small businesses, this platform will provide a direct link between the big and small companies to have direct contact and to be able to settle their invoices directly, easily and efficiently. Alajmi said she was “so excited that her collaboration with the team was so successful and that their presentation was effective and persuasive so that they could win the second prize.”

Commenting on his experience in the STEAM Challenge, student Abdulmalik Alguraini said he was so excited “to work under pressure with a team of diverse individuals, and to succeed in adapting quickly to the team dynamics and to work efficiently on ideas that solve real problems”. According to Alguraini, this experience was very valuable in preparing him for the labor market and in helping him discover his own potential.

Sarah Alrshoudi described the solution she developed with her team as a very practical solution to a problem that almost any bank client is prone to have: issuing an immediate replacement of a lost credit card. She said their solution “cuts the lengthy process of client identification, which normally takes a long time, especially if the client lost her or his credit card while on holiday. By integrating fingerprint identification through the SABB mobile application, it will be extremely helpful and immediate for the bank to identify the client and to issue the replacement, with an expiration date that covers the period of the client’s stay outside Saudi through partner banks in the city/country where the card was lost.”

Commending Sarah’s skills of creative thinking and presentations skills, international mentor John Eager said that Sarah was very successful in presenting her team’s complex idea in English. He described her as being “energetic, positive, and very quick to adapt to the team”. He said that he was impressed by how effectively she could interact with the team members and how she pitched the idea of their solution in a clear and succinct way.

Head of the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, Gordon McConnell, who was the leader of the event, expressed his deep admiration of all the participants describing them as “super enthusiastic, super smart, and very coachable, which an extremely important thing.”

The fintech challenge by KAUST is held in Riyadh for the first time.