They recently completed the Youth Innovation Program, offered by Amideast in partnership with Jordan’s Ministry of Youth and Inventionland MENA, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based entity that bills itself as “America’s largest invention factory” and seeks to be a “catalyst [of] innovative thinking for a sustainable future.”
Carried out with the support of the Kuwait-based Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development, the program serves as a model that Amideast seeks to offer in other countries across the Arab world.
The youth began their training in early June at Ministry of Youth centers in Kufranja, Zarqa, and Tafileh that were specially outfitted with state-of-the-art 3D printers, laser cutters, raw materials, design computers, and safety equipment. Under the guidance of instructors with special training, they proceeded through a nine-step curriculum that Inventionland developed to foster innovation, creative thinking, and teamwork.
Each day the youth had to identify a challenge faced by youth and to take an idea for a potential solution through phases of conceptualization, design, packaging and finally using 3D modeling software to construct a prototype. In this way, the program seeks to transform youth “from thinkers to producers and creators,” said Mahmoud Arafat, president and co-founder of Inventionland MENA.
At the end of 16 weeks, each center held a competition to identify the best products designed by its youth. In September, the eight best teams proceeded to a final competition in Amman, where the award for the “Best Business Idea” went to a team from Zarqa for its “H2O: The Amazing Lid” — a lightweight lid that fits tightly on different sizes of cups for hot and cold drinks, making it ideal for students and workers seeking to protect their clothes, belongings, and themselves from unexpected spills while on the go!
A final graduation ceremony was held under the patronage of Minister of Youth Mohammad Al Nabulsi, who linked the program to solving the country’s unemployment challenge. “Pandemic or not, programs such as this are critical to creating sustainable jobs in Jordan. Our 2019–25 National Youth Strategy places youth innovation and enterprise at the center of addressing this challenge, recognizing that Jordanian youth possess great economic potential when opportunity knocks,” he told the gathering.
Nour Alrasheed, Amideast/Jordan’s country director, added, “The innovations that we see today on display from the participants are reflective of the creativity and ability of youth in these regions to design market-viable products that solve daily challenges in their lives.”
Following the success of the pilot implementation in Jordan, Amideast looks forward to partnering with Inventionland MENA to offer the program elsewhere.