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(left to right) Tanay Jagannathan, Sreya Binesh and Maria Falaknaz each won Dh25,000 from HSBC to help them turn their ideas into reality, under its ‘NextGen10’ contest Image Credit:

Dubai: Three UAE-based students have won HSBC’s ‘NextGen10’ contest, a year-long national competition that looked to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

10 finalists, aged 11 to 14, had pitched their ideas to a panel of business leaders at UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 recently.

Each winner received Dh25,000 from HSBC to help them turn their ideas into reality.

The winners
-Maria Falaknaz, 13, from GEMS Wellington International School with her idea of a tech-enabled walking stick for the visually impaired.
-Sreya Binesh, 12, from GEMS Millennium School Sharjah with her idea of a vertical gardening app.
-Tanay Jagannathan, 13, from GEMS Modern Academy with his idea for a CO2-absorbing drone.

‘Positive impact’

Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO, HSBC UAE and Head of International Markets, said: “All 10 finalists came up with brilliant and innovative ideas that will make a positive impact on our society. The three winners really impressed the judges with their presenting skills, clarity in explaining their ideas, and contextualising them for a real world environment.”

The brief

HSBC had launched NextGen10 in January. The programme saw children aged 10-14 put forward competing ideas that have the potential to shape the future, while developing future skills in the process. Their proposals were required to fit into one of several categories including addressing climate change or how to create an equal and healthier society.

From over 300 successful entries, a final group of 10 students were shortlisted and received training and mentorship to help develop their ideas further from HSBC leaders and its training partner Debate Mate, before presenting their ideas live at the UK Pavilion, where HSBC is a founding partner.

New survey

As part of the entry process for the competition, students contributed to HSBC’s UAE Next Generation survey 2021, which found that 74 per cent of 10-14 year olds are concerned about the climate change challenges, with 92 per cent saying it is up to their generation to fix the planet, and 51 per cent saying that adults do not take the future of the planet seriously.

Climate was ranked as the biggest concern of young people in the UAE ahead of other prominent issues including diversity and equality, bullying and cyberbullying, unemployment, and mental health and physical wellness.