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AMMAN: In the era of Covid, Jordanian mechanical engineer Saliba Taimeh wondered how to deal with an everyday contaminated surface: the handrails of escalators in shopping malls and transport hubs.
He invented a device to sterilize them with UV light – and that’s where TechWorks came in.
A mine of ideas would not have emerged without TechWorks, a Jordanian platform aimed at bringing together young people, ideas and resources to jump-start innovations.
Founded in 2018, TechWorks says its mission is to “connect to ecosystems of entrepreneurship and innovation” and turn ideas into reality.
It is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies such as 3D printers and affiliated with a foundation created by Crown Prince Hussein.
Last year, it attracted around 100 inventors and start-ups, allowing them to produce prototypes quickly and cheaply.
Taimeh, 39, said TechWorks “provided me with all the support, support, advice and guidance” to help perfect the sterilization device, after 23 attempts over nearly two years.
His invention sterilizes escalator handrails “from all kinds of viruses, such as coronaviruses and bacteria,” he said.
After contacting several international companies, a German company specializing in health and safety in public places has contracted to manufacture the “Brigid Box”.
Weighing 7.2 kilograms (nearly 16 pounds), it can be installed in less than 15 minutes.
Taimeh’s success story is just one of many.
High school student Zain Abu Rumman, 18, has developed a tracking device for elderly patients and people with special needs, worn as a watch or around the neck.
The “SPS Watch” has a battery that lasts eight days and is resistant to water, heat and breakage.
“The device can send alerts to a family member’s cell phone via a special app in case the person wearing it falls or gets injured, or wanders away from a certain location,” said said Abu Rumman.
It took him two and a half years to perfect himself and he entered into a production agreement with a Chinese company.
Omar Khader, 26, works for “Jazri Studio”, an industrial design company that has come up with a “smart” plug to protect children from electric shocks.
“TechWorks has state-of-the-art equipment, engineers and technicians that help us turn our ideas into successful products,” he said.
Other designers, like Malik Nour, a 32-year-old civil engineer, still have a long and costly way to go to refine their products.
Nour’s brainchild is “Pikler’s Triangle”, designed as a safe and environmentally friendly children’s toy.
He hopes to lure Swedish furniture giant IKEA to take over his products, which he already sells on social media to customers in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, under the “Fares World” label, from name of her child.
Ismail Hakki, executive director of TechWorks, said its goal is to provide “a creative environment and all the necessary resources to support and enable young people to transform their projects from a simple idea into a real product”.
The doors of the project’s “Fabrication Lab” or FabLab are “open to everyone; we support students, entrepreneurs and startups,” he said.
FabLab also provides services to doctors and hospitals in the areas of facial restoration, digital dentistry, face masks and sterilization.
At the request of a doctor, he transformed the chest X-ray of a patient with a malignant tumor close to the heart into a three-dimensional model of the patient’s chest to facilitate the operation.
The FabLab touts many successes, including a “smart home” that allows a cell phone user to remotely control electrical devices inside the home by turning on heating or cooling systems, and a piano keyboard to help a blind musician play.
It plans to open two more branches in Jordan to provide technology training and support to school and university students.

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