Expand North Star, the world's largest startup showcase, kicked off today at the new Dubai Harbour venue, featuring the latest innovations in robotics, AI, and entrepreneurship. The four-day event brings together 1800 startups from 100 countries and over 1,000 investors with over $1 trillion under management.
Meet ARTEMIS, the World's Fastest-Walking Humanoid Robot
One of the event's highlights was the first live stage demonstration of ARTEMIS, the world's fastest-walking humanoid robot, developed by UCLA researchers. This versatile robot can walk on any terrain using custom-designed actuators that mimic biological muscles, unlike most robots with rigid, position-controlled actuators. ARTEMIS stands at 4 feet, 8 inches and weighs 85 pounds. It can run and jump on rough, unstable surfaces with a speed of 2.1 m/s. The developers' goal is for the autonomous soccer playing robot team to defeat a human world championship team by 2050.
Dr Dennis Hong, the visionary behind this groundbreaking innovation, explained that the key behind ARTEMIS' excellent balance while walking on uneven terrain and its ability to run was the ability to get both feet off the ground while in motion, a revolutionary feat for robots.
Empowering Youth Entrepreneurs to Shape the Future
Expand North Star also hosted YouthX Unipreneur, the biggest youth entrepreneurship programme in the region, inspiring students to become the chief architects of the future. The programme attracted more than 1,500 students from over 40 schools and universities, who pitched their innovative ideas to a panel of experts. More than 600 youth ambassadors and 50 on-stage and off-stage engagements were also part of the programme.
Hassan Sabt, President of Dubai Youth Council, highlighted Expand North Star's significance as a platform for young investors and startups to learn from global industry leaders, compete in live events, share ideas and develop leadership skills.
"The Dubai Youth Council was founded under the direction of our leadership to empower Emirati youth to take an active role and lead strategic industries. The platform also fosters connections while maximizing efforts towards achieving national and global goals. There is no better investment in a country than investing in youth.” he said.
"Our partnership with GITEX YouthX at Expand North Star is just the beginning of much bigger plans to assume more impactful measures on behalf of Emirati youth," added Sabt.
Leveraging AI/ML to Create Products that Make an Impact
Another key session at Expand North Star was a panel discussion on using artificial intelligence and machine learning to create products that dent the universe. The panel featured product managers from global unicorns such as Bolt, Reddit, and Booking.com, who shared their best practices and tips for founders, including Ali Rana, VP of Product at Bolt, Mayank Yadav, Director of Product at Reddit, and Sanchit Juneja, Director of Big Data and ML at Booking.com.
The panellists cautioned against falling for the AI hype. Adopting technology for its own sake with no added value is a sure way to fail as an entrepreneur. Technology, the audience heard, must solve an existing problem. That said, the speakers warned, business owners must keep abreast of technological evolution as many paradigms have changed, affecting careers people thought were indestructible.
Demystifying the Entrepreneur Journey
Gary Blowers, CEO of UAE-based LVL Well-being, shared his experience raising funds for his startup on the Spotlight Stage. The company joined an accelerator program in July 2021, hoping to raise capital in six months. Pitches to hundreds of investors yielded nothing. "Raising capital is a marathon, not a sprint. It's also essential to understand that everyone's journey in raising capital is different, and it takes time in this challenging market. But don't get too caught up with raising capital that you forget to grow the business; keep one eye on the commercials," he urged.
"I've learned some valuable lessons during this process," he continued. "First, your data room is crucial to your success. Keep it updated to reflect your evolving business. Second, be brutally honest with yourself and your team. Communicate candidly, even when things don't go as planned."
Blowers highlighted the importance of the founder and team's well-being. "The entrepreneurial journey can negatively impact mental health, leading to burnout and depression. Prioritize your well-being and create a healthy work culture. Taking care of yourself and your team is key to completing the fundraising marathon and being ready to win at the end."
Expand North Star is the ultimate global destination for startup innovation and inspiration. The event will run until 18 October 2023 at the Dubai Harbour, the Middle East's biggest iconic superyacht hub.