United Arab Emirates is at the Forefront of Enabling Start-up Innovations to Bring About Global Good 

DUBAI, UAE — 18 April 2019The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity (the Global Prosperity Initiative), an initiative of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), calls on global start-ups to develop transformational solutions, aimed at achieving a sustainable future for communities, as showcased by the 16 finalists of its US$1 million Global Maker Challenge at the Pitch Event held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the 16th and 17th of April respectively.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity is creating an ecosystem to channel innovation towards global good, reinforcing the UAE’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UAE is creating the right ecosystem to empower innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs. This is demonstrated by several of the country’s initiatives such as the UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,  as well as the latest legislative direction by the UAE Cabinet on providing long-term visas for entrepreneurs, investors, specialised talent and outstanding students

Giving the keynote address, Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Chief Executive Officer, Alliances for Global Sustainability, said: “To bring prosperity means to give access to healthcare and education, to end poverty and injustice and to ensure safety and security to those in need. Technology is playing an important role in improving the lives of many people across the globe. I have been lucky to meet many entrepreneurs who are creating a positive impact. Innovative entrepreneurs like the shortlisted start-ups of the Global Maker Challenge offer hope for global prosperity. I urge you to keep going and embed social and environmental values in your organisations.”

The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity facilitates an open-innovation platform for innovators to identify solutions that have the potential to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. The Global Maker Challenge, which was launched at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018, shortlisted 16 transformational solutions from over 1,100 submission that address four critical development challenges – Digital Divide & Digital Literacy, Rural Transformation & Zero Hunger, Sustainable Cities and Sustainable Energy – affecting over 1 billion people globally.

Sheikha Shamma added: “The Mohammad bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity has done a remarkable job in creating a platform that demonstrates the power of innovation and collaboration to make a positive difference. I wish the 16 finalists the best of luck for the next stage and am excited to see the impact of the winning solutions that will be announced at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit in Russia." 

The Global Prosperity Initiative is a platform that brings together UN agencies and organisations, major industry and digital innovation companies, NGOs, and businesses to advance resilience, community, harmony and dignity world-wide. The Pitch Event marked a major milestone in the Global Maker Challenge that is set to award the winners with monetary prizes, mentorship, and access to global organisations, worth up to US$1 million. 

Badr Al-Olama, Head of the Organising Committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), said “The Pitch Event has gathered representatives from global manufacturing organisations, UN entities, start-ups and academia. It’s inspiring to see how many people believe in the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on employing innovation to serve humanity. This initiative is the UAE’s contribution towards establishing a global movement that brings together key stakeholders and disruptive innovators to collaborate in spreading global prosperity. We look forward to announcing the winners at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit which will be held in the city of Yekaterinburg, Russia from July 9-11, 2019.” 

In partnership with MIT University’s Solve initiative, the Global Prosperity Initiative coordinated a panel of 37 high-profile judges to assess submissions, and and shortlist the 16 finalists, to present their innovative solutions live to a panel of experts at the Pitch Event. The four finalists selected for the Sustainable Energy challenge included A2P Energy Solution, Resolute Marine, OTAGO and OffGridBox, who have individually aimed to provide people living in rural and isolated communities with access to low carbon energy.  POA Internet, The Rumie Initiative, BuffaloGrid, and Gram Marg have pitched their solutions for the Digital Divide and Digital Literacy challenge of connecting people in remote areas with access to reliable and affordable internet. Pitches for the Rural Transformation and Zero Hunger, which seeks to help farmers in less developed countries to sustainably increase food supply and crop yields, included The Inga Foundation, TruTrade, Safi Sarvi, and Sponsh. Last but not the least, E25Bio, Ada Health, Folia Water, and GARV Toilets showcased their solutions to tackle the Sustainable Cities challenge.

Lourens Boot, Chief Executive Officer of Sponsh, a finalist under the Rural Transformation and Zero Hunger challenge said: “the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity has paved the way to enable several promising innovators build partnerships with a global community of makers to achieve our common goal of enhancing human welfare. Hosting the Pitch Event in the UAE has given us a flavour of the country’s culture of innovation.” 

The judges will review the finalists, with the winners to be revealed at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) 2019 in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg from 9 to 11 July. 

Salwa Smaoui, Government Industry Leader for Microsoft Middle East and Africa, who was on the judging panel for the Sustainable Cities challenge, said: “I was absolutely impressed by the innovation of the projects submitted but also happy that, with the right support from the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity, these ideas or projects could scale and really solve some of the most pressing issues in the world, such as access to drinking water, clean and sustainable environment and better access to healthcare. I think that some of the solutions will be disruptive in improving the lives of millions of people in the developing countries, especially Africa.”

The event was also attended by partners of the Global Prosperity Initiative, potential investors, up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and members of the global media, many of whom travelled from different corners of the world to the UAE. Also in attendance were Alois Mhlanga, Chief, Climate Technology and Innovation Division at UNIDO, Mansoor Janahi, Chief Executive Officer at Turbine Services & Solutions (TS&S), Manuel Kuehn, SVP - Business Development and Strategy at Siemens UAE, and Mohamed Al Qadhi, Director General, Sandooq Al Watan, who participated in an engaging panel discussion on how innovation, entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution offer an unparalleled opportunity to harness technologies for positive social impact. 

Delegates also engaged in some creative ‘making’ with Lego Serious Play, an exercise aimed at directing innovation towards positive social outcomes. Throughout the pitch event, a series of mentorship-driven roundtables were organised covering a range of topics, including entrepreneurship, how to access finance, skills development and design methods for start-ups. 

Khadija Al Jabri, Director of Partnerships and Outreach at Dubai Future Foundation, Malik Al Madani, Chief Innovation Officer, Director of Strategy and Future Department, and Director of SDGs at Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, Manuel Ossa, Head of Operations, Innovation Accelerator at World Food Programme (WFP), and Sandeep Pahuja, Director, IDEO & Palmwood were amongst some of the attendees who drove engaging dialogue around the future of open innovation.  

The event organised two Mentor Flash Talks, inspired by TEDx-style addresses, by PK Gulati, Senior Advisor at Dubai Future Foundation and Chairman Emeritus at TiE Dubai 5, and Elissa Freiha, Founder and Managing Director at WOMENA on women entrepreneurs mobilising positive change. 

Moreover, a session on the Direct Impact Smartshop was facilitated by Dr. Kai Bruns, Senior Research and Innovation Manager at GMIS adopting a design thinking approach to implementing open innovation 2.0 and the UN SDGs.

The Pitch Event was held in Abu Dhabi at the Khalifa Innovation Center in Khalifa University on April 16, followed by a networking and mentorship-driven event held in Dubai at the Dubai Future Accelerators in Emirates Towers on April 17. 


Press Contact:
Reethu Thachil
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M Three Marcomms LLC,
Press Office for:
Global Manufacturing & Industrialisation Summit
Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity

About the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity:
A gift from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai, to the world – The Mohammed bin Rashid (MBR) Initiative for Global Prosperity is an ambitious and impactful worldwide extension of the UAE’s own transformational vision, built on four core values: resilience, community, harmony, and dignity. It combines the MBR Global Maker Challenge – an online open-innovation platform for ‘makers’ and innovators to solve specific real-world challenges, and the MBR Global Prosperity Award – a prestigious global accolade that recognizes and rewards social innovation brought by manufacturing for the betterment of humanity. The initiative brings together companies, startups and entrepreneurs, governments and NGOs to create an ecosystem designed to enable new businesses to be built, new jobs to be created, and new solutions to be unlocked in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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