Swissnex launched “The Swiss – Middle East Circular Economy for Youth Initiative” (SMECEYI) in February 2021 following the postponement of EXPO 2020 Dubai.
Fifteen teams consisting of more than 100 students participated in the competition with the mission of designing an innovative solution to tackle waste management and youth unemployment: two important issues for Middle Eastern countries.
Thanks to the SMECEYI, several universities from the UAE, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the occupied territory of Palestine were able to connect. Local researchers, students, professors and key innovation stakeholders had the possibility to meet and network in this stimulating environment.
It is in this setting that the Plasticycle project started to shape itself, aiming to enable a circular economy while benefitting the youth.
The first selection for the online round happened between April and August 2021. Six finalists were chosen for the second round, including Plasticycle. As two representatives of each group were invited to take part in the SMECEYI final event, chemical engineers Marylise Salim and Peter Obeid travelled to Dubai and successfully presented the project at the Swiss Pavilion of EXPO 2020.
On the 4th of November 2021, the pitching competition took place and Plasticycle, supported by Prof. Roger Marti of the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR), was chosen as the final winner.
The opportunity to take part in this competition allowed the team members to meet inspirational and innovative minds, including Swiss diplomatic officials in the representations of Beirut, Ramallah and Riyadh. Additionally, members benefitted from mentoring sessions with Nestlé, and received an invitation to attend the prestigious Research and Development Accelerator programme, which will take place in Lausanne during the summer of 2022.