By Nikhil Pereira
Finalists will pitch their solutions to elite jury panel in a bid to advance the UN's push towards achieving its sustainable development goals
The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity (the Global Prosperity Initiative) has announced 20 finalists for its Global Maker Challenge who will be in the running to win prizes worth US$1m.
This year innovators had to focus on addressing four major themes: Sustainable and Healthy Food for All, Climate Change, Innovation for Inclusive Trade, and Innovation for Peace and Justice.
The shortlisted finalists have harnessed novel technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, smart materials or cloud-based networks to design affordable solutions that are highly scalable, and can help disadvantaged communities around the world to create new opportunities for sustainable development.
The finalists will present their pitches virtually commencing on August 31, 2020, in the lead up to the Global Maker Challenge Award Ceremony on September 6, 2020.
There has been a 200% increase in solutions – a total of 3,400 – as compared to the inaugural edition in 2019.
Solutions from over 148 countries were received, of which 18% came in from “least developed countries”.
The 20 finalists, comprising five innovators per theme, were assessed and shortlisted in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s SOLVE initiative (MIT SOLVE) and a jury of 47 globally renowned subject matter and innovation experts from UN agencies, global organisations, digital innovation companies, NGOs, and academia.
An estimated 50 million people could be plunged into extreme poverty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the secretary general of the UN António Guterres has warned.
A subsequent report published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) has pointed out to the slowing down of overall efforts to achieve sustainable development goals due to the pandemic, putting years of progress at risk.
Badr Al-Olama, head of the organising committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) said: “The disruption caused by the pandemic risks setting back the progress made towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Innovation is key to controlling the damage caused by Covid-19 and bringing us back to speed towards a more sustainable future. We must double up on our efforts in utilising innovation to address humanitarian challenges and offer solutions to the unprecedented challenges caused by this crisis.
“Since its inception in 2017, the Global Prosperity Initiative has reflected the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who is a firm believer in applying the power of innovation to solve our world’s challenges. I am confident that the creativity of this year’s finalists will further advance this vision – bringing life-changing solutions to those that need them most.”
The finalists of the Sustainable and Healthy Food for All challenge are ColdHubs, IXON, Xilinat, Stixfresh, and Nilus, who effectively address the issues that fast-growing urban populations face in accessing healthy and sustainable food.
The Climate Change challenge proposed solutions that facilitate a low-carbon circular economy through smart use of existing resources. The finalists of this challenge include AlgiKnit, Aquacycl, Queen of Raw, Plastics for Change, and Biocellection.
Each of the shortlisted solutions within the Innovation for Peace and Justice challenge offered a novel idea that helps refugees and displaced people access affordable, quality services that are essential to their safety and wellbeing; these include Peripheral Vision International (PVI), ID2020, PeaceTech Lab, Simbi Foundation, and Aiyin.
The final challenge, Innovation for Inclusive Trade, showcased innovators that were selected for their ability to support rural communities in accessing new supply chains and markets to create better livelihoods. The finalists within this challenge are Agricycle Global, Fantine, POKET, Takachar, and ChapChap.