YU Students Win HIC 8 Semi-Finals & Qualify to Global Level

Student Ohoud Alarifi and her team member (via phone from Riyadh) Maha Abalkhail emerged as the Winners of the Henkel Innovation Challenge 8 semi-finals held in Dubai (19 February) and qualified to compete at the international level in Vienna in April.

Nine teams from six universities in the GCC region presented their innovative ideas of futuristic Henkel detergents, adhesives and beauty care products in 15 minutes-presentations (followed by Q & A session by the juries) that aimed to study the market needs in 2050 and provide a carefully designed business and marketing plan. The winners of the semi-finals get to represent their country and region at the international HIC 8 finals, which will take place in Vienna, April 7-10. The winner of the international competition receive a lucrative prize: a € 10,000 check and a special reception by Henkel CEO. And a decent job offer by the company, too.

Ohoud impressed the juries not only with the idea she presented (a futuristic detergent to wash clothes using grey water: Ohoud anticipates that in 2050 grey water is going to be a must for household purposes such as cleaning) but with how she turned a threat into opportunity.

The night before the presentations, Maha wrote to Henkel that due to urgent personal reasons, she would not be able to travel to Dubai to give the presentation with Ohoud. Left in this awkward situation, Ohoud came up with a very creative idea to save her day: she ordered, almost in no time, a life-size cardboard image of her teammate, Maha, and brought it with her to the presentation. After a few unsuccessful attempts to call Maha via Skype, Ohoud settled with an ordinary phone call and put Maha on the speaker and through a microphone so that both could give their presentation together as planned.

The juries were amazed at how creative, innovative and determined Ohoud proved herself to be.

The HIC 8 semi-finals are not only about winning and moving forward to compete at the global level. All participants were interviewed for employment/internship at Henkel.

Coordinated by the Student Activity Administration at the Deanship of Registration, Admission and Student Affairs and Henkel, this is the third time YU students took part in this competition. The first was in 2013 at the HIC 6 semi-finals and was a learning experience. At the HIC 7 semi-finals in 2014, a team of two male students made it to the Third Place. This time at HIC 8 semi-finals, YU students headed straight to the top and booked their ticket to Vienna.