The Middle East has rapidly urbanized over the last two decades, resulting in problems such as urban poverty, congestion, and informal settlements among others. Cairo’s population, for example, has increased six-fold in the last 60 years putting tremendous pressure on basic services and infrastructure. In Amman, traffic congestion is a major issue as is the lack of an integrated public transport system. Meanwhile, urban technologies like wireless traffic sensors, smart streetlights, and solar-powered ovens are improving the quality of life in cities around the world by making them more efficient, sustainable and inclusive.
As the Middle East continues to urbanize, its cities urgently need to access and benefit from the best urban innovations. With this concentration of urban challenges, Middle Eastern cities also provide a perfect real world laboratory for stress testing emerging urban technology solutions. Once scaled, a solution that addresses the problems faced by cities like Amman, Cairo, and Riyadh can potentially impact urban areas facing these challenges worldwide.
Omraan is a global call for new technology ideas, aiming to identify and reward aspiring entrepreneurs who are developing promising technologies that tackle urban challenges. Omraan is an exciting and impactful collaboration between Oasis500, the New Cities Foundation, and the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) to incubate urban technologies in Middle Eastern cities. “Urban technologies” encompasses technologies in the ICT sector related to mobile, web, cloud, e-commerce, gaming, entertainment, enterprise software, digital news, digital advertising, and social networks.
Along with the Greater Amman Municipality’s support, Oasis500’s sector-specific expertise and the New Cities Foundation’s global reach will provide a powerful platform for incubating, promoting and scaling urban innovations in the Middle East.
Oasis500 is a leading early stage and seed investment company, the first of its kind in Jordan and the MENA region. Its programs include entrepreneurship training, mentorship guidance, business incubation and additional follow-up investment and funding if required. Oasis500 turns new business ideas into startups and helping existing entrepreneurs grow their companies with its angel investor and mentor networks. Oasis500 nurtures creative ideas in information technology (IT), mobile and digital media.
The New Cities Foundation is a leading global non-profit organization with a vision to build more inclusive, dynamic and creative cities benefiting people and society. Its mission is to incubate, promote and scale urban innovations through collaborative partnerships between government, business, academia and civil society. The Foundation runs an Urban (co)LAB, which manages Task Forces, thought leadership activities and competitions, including Omraan. In parallel, the New Cities Foundation hosts a number of leadership events on the most pressing urban issues, including its flagship annual event, the New Cities Summit.
Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is home to over 3 million population and covers a land area of 800 sq. km. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial center and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) provides municipal services which include zoning; planning; infrastructure construction, operations, and maintenance; traffic, public transport, parks, and various other health social and cultural services.
Amman has witnessed unprecedented growth in population as well as development. However, the city's infrastructure did not always keep up with this growth as may be evident in the increasing traffic congestion and pressure on city services. GAM has been working on five tracks that include: environment and energy; transport and infrastructure; land use planning and zoning; socioeconomic development; and identity. Indeed, embracing technology and innovation is at the core of GAM's strategy to turn Amman into a Knowledge City.
The King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD) in Jordan, established with a royal decree, aims to support the Jordanian community by driving human and infrastructure development. KAFD works to further develop key sectors in Jordan and improve local standards of living for all segments of the Jordanian community, targeting individuals, public and private sectors and civil society organizations.
A clear description of the problem that your business is trying to solve in the market. Present a value proposition and provide what customer need/pain the product/service addresses.
Your business must address a large or growing market opportunity, and you clearly understand the customer segments and competitive landscape in your target market(s). Demonstrate that your product is different or competitively viable.
We invest in technologies in the ICT sector related to mobile, web, cloud, e-commerce, gaming, entertainment, enterprise software, digital news, digital advertising, and social networks.
We look for teams of high-quality entrepreneurs with a thorough and credible execution plan. We also look at your team’s passion for and commitment to the new business idea.
We would like to have a clear understanding of how your product/service will generate revenue.
We require well-conceived financial projections, based on sound assumptions, demonstrating consistent profits and cash flow growth.
We support innovation that will lead to smart solutions for urban challenges facing Amman and other cities in the region
The New Cities Foundation is proud to be launching Omraan in collaboration with Oasis500. This unique initiative is an important milestone in the Foundation’s history
Acceleration will involve coaching and mentoring from the Oasis500 team, industry experts, and a group of 300 local and international mentors, many of whom work in Silicon Valley. The 100 days acceleration and investment will be followed by 6‐9 months of incubation in Amman or any of our partner cities.
Omraan has an ambitious goal to attract and develop the brightest tech start-ups from around the world to the Middle East. We are confident that our collaboration with NCF, GAM and KAFD will lead us to create the smart cities of the future.
The Greater Amman Municipality has provided examples of various urban problems the Amman municipality currently experiences. As an applicant to Omraan, your idea should address similar or the same urban problems and present an innovative, feasible solution to such pressing issues. However, do not feel limited to addressing the problems outlined on the sheet; you are free to explore other urban challenges and provide your own unique solution. You will find the outline of the urban problems that Amman currently faces below.
Amman today has close to 1 million registered vehicles, which account for over 34% of the daily trips. Meanwhile, public transport accounts for a mere 13% of daily trips. The humble use of public transport can be attributed to several factors, including low service quality, lack of schedule, inadequate service quality, etc. With increased reliance on private cars, traffic congestion has become the norm for many locations within Amman as the existing road network cannot cope with the large number of vehicles. Possible areas for innovation include:
Energy (and water) are among the biggest challenges facing Jordan today. Transportation consumes more than 40% of the energy imported to Jordan. Generally there is widespread reliance on fossil fuels for the transport fleet. With the exception of a limited number of hybrid vehicles, gasoline and diesel are the predominant fuels used for transport. Additionally, recent interruptions in the gas supply from Egypt meant electric power generation is reverting back to diesel or heavy oil. The quality of diesel off fuel in Jordan also poses a great environmental risk due to high pollution levels.
GAM is increasing using IT systems to improve efficiency of its processes and raise the level of service provided to citizens. There are numerous areas that can benefit from innovations in process re-engineering, data management, fleet management, inventory control, etc.
This is one of the high priority tracks of GAM's strategy. With over 3 million inhabitants, trash collection still relies on laborious procedures that rely on collection from many points and involves travel for long distances. Possible improvements include innovations in sorting and recycling as well as garbage collection and processing.
Cities of the region are in urgent need to address social, economic , and environmental challenges associated with urbanization. Omraan will be the lead with technology solutions, and KAFD is proud to be part of it.
Omraan is looking for entrepreneurs with early stage urban technology ideas from around the world. There will be 3 stages to the application process before an idea is selected for seed funding.