Winners of the Gitex ‘Strut-Up’ Pitch Competition. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai’s own Acacus Technologies won of the Global Startup of the Year award at Gitex ‘Strut-Up’ Pitch Competition on Wednesday, talking home $100,000 in prize money.

The company provides comprehensive fleet management solutions that optimise fleet dispatch and improves fleet safety. The company was recently awarded a contract for Dubai Taxi to in-vehicle driver cameras and sensory devices to capture eye movement, head tilt and driving behaviour in real time.

“Winning the Global Startup of the Year award at Gitex means everything to us. Besides winning the competition, being part of the ecosystem created by the whole Startup Movement in Dubai has been an amazing experience,” said Talal Bin Halim, managing director of Acacus. “This week has allowed us to network and explore new ideas and opportunities. It means much more than winning the prize, it’s everything that being here has done for us as a business.”

With four cash prizes on the line, competitors had just five intense minutes each to convince a panel of high-profile judges coming from as far away as Silicon Valley that their idea would be the next big thing in technology. Pitches took place over three days and the competition saw more than 38 start-ups compete across more than 50 pitches, each round moving the winners one step closer to the grand prize.

“The decision was incredibly difficult because they were all so different in terms of technology, so it was an interesting challenge to compare them,” said judging panel member, Darius Moeini, Director of Lab and Venture Development at the German Tech Entrepreneurship Center. “The start-ups were on such a high level that we were fighting over who should win the prizes, so it was not an obvious choice and was a very close call for all the categories.”

In the Best Arab start-up category, Saudi Arabia’s Sawwagy was awarded $20,000 for an app designed to help Saudi families communicate with private driving services. Features include pinpointing a destination for the driver to travel, and notifications on progress and arrival, without the driver needing to read messages or answer calls while on the road.

Hailing from Dubai but serving the world’s educational needs, EdTech Solutions won the competition’s $20,000 Best Millennial Startup award with their Teach Me Now education platform, which provides virtual classrooms for teachers and students to enrich their learning experience. Thea Myhrvold, the company’s founder and managing director, describes the site as “the eBay of private tutoring” with the goal of making education accessible to everyone. Teach Me Now’s first ever lesson saw a professor in Venezuela teaching a student in the Middle East.

Akoustic Arts took home $20,000 as the winners of the Best Woman Startup, with founder Myriam Marcetteau travelling from France to pitch at the Strut-up Competition. Akoustic Arts has created the « A » speaker — the world’s most advanced directional speaker. Already gaining steam on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, the invention creates a narrow beam of sound allowing the user to direct sound to the listener from across the room without anyone else hearing it.

Over 420 start-up companies have participated in the Gitex Global Startup Movement this week, hailing from over 60 countries. In its first year, it has already become the most global weeklong start-up showcase in the world.