DISC 2018 Elevate Your Vision

Drone Innovation
Start-up Contest 2018

After the successful launch of Krypto Labs and corresponding contest in 2018, we are now offering an exciting new opportunity to start-up companies innovating within the drone technology sector.

DISC 2018 will grant the winning early stage start-up an opportunity to obtain up to $500,000 capital investment and enrolment in the incubator, in return for Krypto Labs receiving a stake in the business (refer to terms and conditions for further details).

Online applications can be submitted between January 28 and April 8, 2018. Submissions will be reviewed by the Krypto Labs team who will select a maximum of 20 shortlisted entries by April 12.
From these shortlisted start-ups, a jury of global experts in drone technology will select five finalists who will be invited to pitch to the Final Day Jury at our DISC 2018 Final Event in Abu Dhabi on May 6.

Contest Timeline

January 28, 2018

Applications open

April 8, 2018


April 12, 2018

Top 20 shortlisted teams announced

April 22, 2018

Up to Five finalists announced

May 6, 2018

Up to five finalists will pitch live onstage at our Krypto Labs DISC 2018 Final Event.
A panel of industry experts will decide who will be offered up to $500,000 investment and enrolment in the Krypto Labs incubator

Award and Benefits

The final winner
will receive:

Up to $500,000 investment towards funding of early stage start-up, terms of which will be determined by Krypto Labs, and in accordance with reference to a number of factors.

All five finalists
will receive:

An opportunity to receive Krypto Labs
incubator services.
Increased visibility
for their start-up.
A round-trip for up to two team members
from home country to Abu Dhabi.


Krypto Labs DISC 2018 is open to both individual innovators and team-based projects or start-up companies with no more than 10 employees, and from anywhere in the world (subject to certain restrictions – see our terms for further details).
The project must be centred around drone technology and must leverage the drone technology to solve a problem society faces today.
To enter, team-based start-ups or projects must select one person to submit the application and to serve as the team’s representative throughout the competition.


A world-renowned panel of experts act as the Jury for the Contest

Early stage technology investor and advisor


San Francisco, USA

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Zachery Coelius is currently an early stage technology investor and advisor. His notable investments include Cruise Automation (bought by GM for $1B+), Branch Metrics, SkySafe and a dozen other startups. He is an advisor to twenty companies including Hellosign, Swarm (bought by Integral Ad Sciences), Balanced Payments (Stripe) and many others. Mr. Coelius is also four-time entrepreneur. In his last company he was the co-founder and CEO of Triggit, an advertising technology company that was one of the first Demand Side Platforms, where he raised over $25m in venture capital and exited in 2015 to Linkedin and another financial buyer. He ran Triggit from 2005 to 2015, growing it from 4 to 60 employees and over $30m in revenue. Zachery attended the University of Minnesota as an undergraduate where he was named by the USA Today as one of the top 20 college students in the nation in 2004. He was also the recipient of the George Mitchell scholarship where he received a master’s degree in International studies at the University of Limerick.

Managing Director of Krypto Labs

Dr. Saleh
Al Hashemi

Abu Dhabi, UAE

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Managing Director of Krypto Labs, the CEO of Algorythma, the Chairman of Integrated Securities and the Chairman of Integrated Capital PJSC. Dr. Al Hashemi brings a wealth of experience from working in senior leadership positions across businesses, government, and academia. Most recently, he was the Executive Director of Infrastructure and Environment at the General Secretariat of Abu Dhabi’s Executive Council. During his tenure at the Executive Council, Dr. Al Hashemi was instrumental in advising the government in restructuring key infrastructure projects and state-owned commercial enterprises to improve the use of sponsor capital and financing to better align these initiatives to the long-term interests of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. In 2001, he led the development of the Petroleum Institute where he helped open several innovation and research centers within the ADNOC complex. Dr. Al Hashemi holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Tufts University in the United States. He is a patented inventor and a published author in several peer-reviewed academic journals including Science Magazine.

Director of International Business Development at Aurora Flight Sciences

Amir Kalaoun

Zurich, Switzerland

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Amir Kalaoun is the Director of International Business Development at Aurora Flight Sciences. Mr. Kalaoun joined Aurora in 2016 from the aviation maintenance industry.  At Aurora, he is responsible for developing the company’s presence in the international market, with a focus on Europe and the Middle East regions. He is involved in the marketing and branding cycles, sales, business and partnership relations for all the business sectors of Aurora, particularly the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and the recent aerial systems related to Urban Mobility. Mr. Kalaoun has 10 years of extensive aviation industry experience from maintenance, modifications, retrofits, to supply of new parts and systems (OEM). His experience is spread over commercial, military and VIP sectors of aviation. Mr. Kalaoun holds a Bachelor of Sciences in Industrial Engineering and a Master’s degree of Sciences in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Technology of Troyes in France, coupled with a Minor in Business Administration.

Founder at Flybrix

Amir Hirsc

San Francisco, USA

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Flybrix offers reconfigurable drone kits featuring LEGO®-compatible building bricks and accompanying open source software.
Mr. Amir completed two undergraduate degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics, and a Master’s degree in EECS at the MIT. After his studies, he worked at a small engineering firm building an FPGA emulator for the classic PDP-11 mini-computer to replace old industrial equipment. MR. Amir participated in the YCombinator Summer 2011 program with his startup Motion Arcade Inc. which produced widely-used developer tools for 3-D computer vision. At Flybrix, he develops hardware for motion tracking and visual navigation in a lightweight and low-power system.

Startup investor and advisor, innovation design expert

John Ramey

Boulder, USA

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John Ramey is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, advisor, and investor. He advises governments and companies on how to create better innovation programs. Through his advisory career he raised over $125M in capital. Mr. John is the youngest entrepreneur worldwide to raise VC during the financial crisis. He is also Founder CEO of iSocket, which created an $8B market segment, now acquired, and Founder of Nomadic Mentors, a leading international startup mentorship network, now acquired. Mr. John is the Innovation advisor to Obama White House.

MD at Founder Institute Montreal

Sergio Escobar

Montreal, Canada

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Sergio has a diversified investment portfolio of companies ranging from Artificial Intelligence, Wearables, EdTech, Productivity Softwares, eCommerce, MarketPlaces, FinTech to Consumer Apps.

Sergio is a tech entrepreneur having experience with Aerospace, eCommerce and Mobile Payment startups.

Deeply involved in the international entrepreneurial scene through his involvement as for entrepreneurial programs such as Startup Chile, Startup Peru, Startup Bootcamp FinTech London, MsB Tunisia, Kuwait National Fund, Techstars Startup Programs, Founder Institute, World Bank ‘Tech Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean’, and Creative Destruction Lab in Artificial Intelligence.

Founder and Chairman at Sanad Academy

Mansour Al Bloushi

Dubai, UAE

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Mr. Mansour Al blooshi is the founder and chairman of SANAD Academy and SANAD Film. Mansour was introduced to the field of UAVs early in 2001, Since then he has pursued his education and career in the field of UAVs. Having completed his Bachelor’s in Avionics in the west, Mansour has served as a certified UAV instructor and also offered consultancy services for government entities when the commercial UAVs were being introduced in the market. He has achieved the UAE Drones for Good Award in the national category for the year 2017.

SANAD Academy is the region’s first educational foundation dedicated towards sharing the knowledge of RPA Operation. The Academy works closely with the Civil Aviation Authority in the emirate of Dubai. The Academy serves as a certifying hub that not only educates but also tests the Civilian drone operators on their skill and airworthiness of their aircraft. The Academy also serves as a hub for innovation in drones where the potential of UAVs are explored across various fields by building and testing them.

Founder at Flybrix

Dr. Robb Walters

San Francisco, California

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Dr. Robb Walters is a founder at Flybrix, an education-focused drone developer. Flybrix offers reconfigurable drone kits featuring LEGO®-compatible building bricks and accompanying open source software.

Robb is a scientist turned entrepreneur. He earned his PhD in Applied Physics at Caltech and then worked at the FOM Institute in Amsterdam. In 2010, he moved to San Francisco to found Integrated Plasmonics, a nanotechnology-based spectroscopy company.

Robb joined the founding team at Flybrix in 2015 to build on his past experience in robotics during the DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous driving competitions. Technology development at Flybrix is focused on advancing the state of the art in low-cost vision-stabilization for drones to create “controlled airspace” for the classroom.

Co-Founder & CEO at Airscope

Mohammed Aziz

Dubai, UAE

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Mohammed Aziz has been part of the drone industry for over 7 years. During this time he founded 3 drone technology start-ups in the MENA, including Airscope Aerial Services, an industrial drone services company.

He also invented the world’s first smart life saving ring that won the UAE Drones for Good award prize of AED 1M.

Thorough his career he experienced civil drone technology revolutionize from its infant stage, through the implementation of drones in the ecosystem of Dubai Police and the RTA projects.

Founder & CEO at Social Glass. Co-Founder at Matternet.

Paola Santana

San Francisco, USA

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Paola Santana is a lawyer, public policy expert and tech entrepreneur. She’s the founder and CEO of Social Glass, a Silicon Valley-based company developing Artificial Intelligence-driven technology platforms to enable high-performing governments.

Previously she co-founded Matternet, a company pioneering the use of autonomous drone logistics networks as the next paradigm of transportation. She has collaborated with the World Bank, the OECD, the Dominican Republic’s National Elections Court and Constitutional Court, developing striking public infrastructure projects and strategic plans to integrate advanced exponential technologies into E-Government platforms.

More recently, her work at Matternet included running Matternet’s network operations and engaging with The White House, US Congress, FAA, NASA, and other key actors to enact comprehensive regulatory frameworks and allow the first commercial operations of drone transport networks worldwide.

Co-Founder & CEO at DRONAMICS

Svilen Rangelov

Sofia, Bulgaria

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As CEO, Svilen leads the business team at DRONAMICS in developing the world-leading cargo UAV “The Black Swan” – a fixed-wing aircraft that can transport 350 kg at a distance of 2,500 km. 

In 2014 he co-founded DRONAMICS with a mission to revolutionize air freight. Svilen has been named one of Bulgaria’s 40 Under 40 list, and his work has led DRONAMICS to win numerous international awards, including Pioneers Festival. 

Prior to DRONAMICS, he managed projects in marketing and business development on four continents. Svilen is an Economics graduate of Davidson College, USA.

CEO & Co-Founder at Stratyfy

Michael Cherkassky

New York, USA

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Michael is currently the CEO of Stratyfy, a technology company which empowers experts in the financial services industry with transparent AI.

Prior to Stratyfy Michael has spent a decade at the intersection of technology and business at Intel Corporation and McKinsey & Company.

Michael holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the Technion, IIT.

CEO and Founder at fragaX

Kiril Dimitrov

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

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Kiril is CEO and founder of fragaX, a Bulgarian mature startup building reliable and productive UAVs.

Before that he worked in the German automotive industry on R&D projects for AUDI, BMW and Continental AG.

Kiril studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences Aachen and Automotive Software Engineering at the Technical University Munich.

Co-Founder at ScienceVest

Ramphis Castro

New York, USA

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As the co-founder of ScienceVest, a venture capital fund in New York and San Francisco for hard-tech and life science companies, Ramphis invests in high-impact, translational scientific research companies “too late” for grants, but “too early” for traditional venture capital. Areas include AI, Robotics, SynBio, Medtech, Diagnostics, among others.

He is an engineer first (and lawyer), but has training/degrees in law, entrepreneurship, public policy, entrepreneurship education, and other useful skills. He is an NCEES licensed Professional Engineer (Computer Engineering). He is an alum of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (Engineering) and School of Law in Río Piedras (Law), and C.R.O.E.M. (High School) in Mayaguez.

Co-Founder & CTO at DRONAMICS

Konstantin Rangelov

Sofia, Bulgaria

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As CTO, Konstantin leads the engineering team at DRONAMICS in developing the world-leading cargo UAV “The Black Swan” – a fixed-wing aircraft that can transport 350 kg at a distance of 2,500 km. 

After studying Aerospace Engineering in the Technical University of Delft, the Netherlands, Konstantin worked in Airborne Composites (the Netherlands).
In 2014 he co-founded DRONAMICS, with a mission to revolutionize air freight. Konstantin was named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list, and his work has led DRONAMICS to win numerous international awards, including Pioneers Festival.

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Top 20 teams

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Terms & Conditions

The idea or early stage start-up represented by
the applicant must meet the following conditions:

  • 1
    It must be categorized as being relevant to drone technology
  • 2
    Technology should have a commercial application.
  • 3
    It must be for-profit.
  • 4
    It must be inventive, innovative or disruptive.
  • 5
    It must be ready for incubation.
  • 6
    The business proposal must be original work and applicants must hold all applicable rights in it.
  • 7
    It must be submitted in English.
  • 8
    A team of up to two people, or the individual representing the idea or start-up, must be available to pitch the project in person on Sunday, May 6, 2018 at Krypto Labs in Abu Dhabi.

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