23 new social innovators have been added to the Expo 2020’s global innovation and partnership programme: Expo Live.
An Australian organisation providing work opportunities for refugees, a dementia breakthrough from Malta and an environmentally sustainable Indian packaging company are among the new social innovators helping to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges as part of Expo Live.
The Expo Live Innovation Impact Grant Programme, IIGP, began in 2016 and has since expanded from 29 Global Innovators in 22 countries to 142 grantees across 76 countries, with each offered funding of up to AED367,000 (US$100,000), plus expert advice and the opportunity to share their ideas with a global audience.
Cycle Five grantees were selected from a pool of more than 4,000 applicants from 170 countries, proving that meaningful innovation to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges can come from anywhere, to everyone.
Yousuf Luiz Caires, Senior Vice President, Expo Live, said, “All projects supported by Expo Live so far – from improving access to mental health platforms in Egypt, Saudi Arabia or the United Kingdom, to innovative recycling technology in China – remain committed to improving people’s lives during the global health crisis.”
Expo 2020 will offer a unique platform to its Expo Live Global Innovators, many from Arab nations such as the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon. It will provide them with the opportunity to showcase their solutions on a global stage, encouraging collaboration, sparking ideas and inspiring further positive change.
Global Innovators joining the IIGP include Australia-based Talent Beyond Boundaries, TBB, which helps refugees and displaced people move internationally for work, leveraging their professional skills to secure their futures. TBB is engaging the global private sector and national governments to provide a safe, legal migration option for refugees, enabling them to generate income for themselves and their families, while also offering a solution to industries and communities who struggle to find the talent they need.
Malta-based BrainTrip, created by lifelong brain enthusiasts with backgrounds in cognitive science, neuroscience and medicine, offers an affordable, easy-to-use and mobile EEG-based (electroencephalogram) method to diagnose dementia – a breakthrough in rapid screening and early detection of the debilitating disease.
Also among the grantees is GICMED, whose innovative telemedicine platform and smartphone digital microscopy system allows women in rural areas of Cameroon to be screened and diagnosed for breast and cervical cancers. This takes place at the point of care by medical specialists ordinarily only present in a handful of big cities.
More than half the Global Innovators in Cycle Five are also led by women, highlighting Expo Live’s commitment to female-led entrepreneurship and building on the major contribution of women in the delivery of Expo 2020. To date, 35 per cent of all Global Innovators – 49 out of 142 in the IIGP – are led by female entrepreneurs.
They include India-based Ecoware, whose range of 30-plus compostable, 100 per cent natural and biodegradable packaging products address two significant environmental problems in India – air and plastic pollution. Made from common agricultural residue that would otherwise be burnt in the open, its products directly benefit the planet and people, particularly children and those more vulnerable to air pollution.
Rhea Mazumdar Singhal, Founder & CEO of Ecoware said, ” With Expo Live funds we will be able to source new types of agricultural waste for conversion into applications that will displace single-use plastics, take our products to smaller towns and cities and expand our impact.”
Amal Work, a Palestine-based start-up, empowers construction workers through its online platform aimed at improving workers’ access to suitable employment opportunities with their safety and dignity preserved. Its app provides cross-examinations of worker/contractor profiles and has multiple filters, including reviews.
Rowan Alawi, Co-Founder, Amal Work, said, “In March, we came to Dubai to pitch our idea to a grant evaluation committee made up of industry experts and key stakeholders. That pitch was successful, and now, with Expo Live’s support, we can further commercialise and develop our platform, helping our workforce to access the right opportunities, at the right time.”
Projects under the Expo Live programme look for solutions across 14 different sectors. These include innovators that help to address the challenges set out in the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, 17 global goals designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
Expo 2020, the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, MEASA, region, will run from 1st October, 2021, to 31st March, 2022, and bring together some of the brightest minds and greatest ideas from around the world.