Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity Announces Finalists Set to be First Winners of $1 Million Global Maker Challenge

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16 shortlisted start-ups pitch innovative solutions at Global Maker Challenge pitch event on 16 and 17 of April in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Badr Al-Olama, Head of the Organising Committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS)

The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity (the Global Prosperity Initiative), an initiative of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), today reveals 16 shortlisted start-ups for the US$1 million Global Maker Challenge, who have been invited to pitch their solutions during a two-day event on16 and 17 April in Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively.

Affecting over 1 billion people globally, four critical development themes – Digital Divide & Digital Literacy, Rural Transformation & Zero Hunger, Sustainable Cities and Sustainable Energy – form the basis of the four Global Maker Challenges, which were launched at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018. With monetary prizes, mentorship, and access to global organisations, worth up to US$1 million, the Global Prosperity Initiative is a platform that brings together UN agencies and organisations, major industry and digital innovation companies, NGOs, business accelerators and incubators, start-ups and entrepreneurs, and academics to drive dialogue and action on transformative solutions and partnerships that will solve the world’s most pressing issues.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity will host the 16 finalists and provide them with the opportunity to present their innovations to a panel of 37 judges drawn from world-leading organisations. Over the past six months, the judges, in coordination with members from MIT University’s Solve Initiative, have reviewed over 1,100 submissions from 83 countries and shortlisted sixteen solutions that have the potential of making the biggest socio-economic impact and contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Badr Al-Olama, Head of the Organising Committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), said: “In the space of just a few months, the Global Maker Challenge has managed to inspire thousands of talented innovators from across the world to submit their innovative solutions to solve real-world challenges, whether that be in bridging the digital divide, reducing hunger, bringing clean energy to remote communities or tackling the spread of disease in urban areas. The sheer number, quality and range of submissions we received is truly remarkable, and demonstrates the power of innovation and collaboration to make a positive difference to the lives of people everywhere. We are incredibly excited to welcome the finalists to the UAE for the pitch event and look forward to seeing them present their solutions to the judges and connecting them with leading organisations as well as a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.”

Four innovative start-ups or companies will compete per challenge, representing a total of eight countries including the United States, India, the United Kingdom, Kenya, the Netherlands, Cambodia, Canada and Mexico. Under the Sustainable Energy theme, the finalists include A2P Energy Solution, Resolute Marine, OTAGO and OffGridBox, who are tackling the challenge of providing people living in rural and isolated communities with access to low carbon energy. The finalists under the Digital Divide and Digital Literacy theme – POA Internet, The Rumie Initiative, BuffaloGrid, and Gram Marg – have taken up the challenge to provide access to reliable and affordable internet connectivity to people in remote areas. Tackling the challenge of sustainably increasing food and cash crop yields for farmers in less developed countries, The Inga Foundation, TruTrade, Safi Sarvi, and Sponsh are finalists under the Rural Transformation and Zero Hunger theme. Finally, E25Bio, Ada Health, Folia Water, and GARV Toilets are the finalists aiming to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and prevent the next pandemic in cities, under the Sustainable Cities theme.

In coordination with MIT Solve, the initiative formed a high-profile judging panel made up of 37 global innovation experts from a range of UN agencies and organisations, global companies, NGOs, business accelerators, incubators and academics, to select the finalists for the pitch event in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on 16 and 17 April respectively. The winners for each challenge will be revealed at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) 2019 in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in July.

Members of the judging panel include, Amir Amin Hagos, The Ethiopian Minister of Health, and Marguerite Nyhan, Research Scientist Post-Doctorial Researcher of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to judge the Sustainable Cities challenge; Rachel Kyte, CEO and Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General at Sustainable Energy for All, and Zack Bongiovanni, Head of Global Partnerships and Emerging Markets at YouTube to judge the Sustainable Energy challenge; Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director for India, South and Central Asia at Facebook, and Heather Johnson, VP for Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson to judge the Digital Divide and Digital Literacy challenge; Christine Daugherty, VP for Global Sustainable Agriculture and Responsible Sourcing at PepsiCo, and Mohammad Anisur Rahman, Director for Dairy and Food at BRAC to judge the challenge on Rural Transformation & Zero Hunger.

Deepali Khanna, Managing Director of Asia Regional Office, The Rockefeller Foundation, and a judge for the Sustainable Energy challenge, said: “From defining themes and selecting judges to successful outreach strategies that brought in applicants from various fields, The Mohamed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity truly organised a well-thought-out world-wide challenge. The kind of innovative approaches that surfaced through this competition have rich ingredients to provide game-changing solutions that will create a significant impact on the lives of people. The initiative is supporting open-innovation by identifying projects that are scalable, sustainable and drive impact to millions of people living in poverty.”

Manuel Ossa, Head of Operations of the World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator, and a judge for the Rural Transformation and Zero Hunger challenge, said: “The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals will only be achieved by having multiple players from different sectors and regions working together on the right challenges, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity has facilitated a platform to accomplish this. Seeing the high calibre of entries that have come through and the innovative solutions being presented, the initiative will certainly have a positive impact on several societies.”

The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity combines the Global Maker Challenge, an online open-innovation platform designed to promote and accelerate global prosperity through product innovation; and the Global Prosperity Award, a prestigious global accolade that recognises and rewards corporate social responsibility that advances resilience, community, harmony and dignity across the world, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Launched in September 2018, the Global Maker Challenge consists of four challenges determined in partnership with eight UN agencies, each targeting a specific issue which global organisations can adopt as part of their corporate social responsibility. The call to action was answered by innovators from all over the world, with strong participation from developing countries, including many on the United Nations list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) such as Uganda, Laos, Sudan, and Congo.

Theme: Sustainable Cities

Challenge: How can cities leverage technology to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and prevent the next pandemic?

Total solutions received: 208

Finalists include:

  • Urban platform for infectious disease reporting: E25Bio is a mobile phone application used to detect and report some of the most dangerous and transmissible viruses.
  • Affordable water disinfecting nano-silver paper filters: The Folia Filter is an antimicrobial filter paper that does not require electricity, and contain silver nanoparticles that kill bacteria and viruses.
  • GARV Toilets: GARV Toilets provides Smart Sanitation Solutions to underserved communities in urban and peri-urban areas in developing countries.
  • Ada Health: Ada Health uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help individuals assess medical symptoms and share the results with healthcare professionals.

Theme: Sustainable Energy

Challenge: How do the millions of people living in rural and isolated communities get access to low carbon energy?

Total solutions received: 309

Finalists include:

  • A2P Energy Solution: A2P collects paddy straw during harvesting in balled form, then processes it into renewable energy products such as pellets.
  • Wave2O Clean Energy From Ocean Waves: Wave2O is a wave-driven seawater desalination system designed to provide clean water to millions in coastal communities.
  • Eco Friendly Char-Briquettes for Clean Cooking: Char-Briquettes are a more sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal for cooking purposes produced by recycling biomass waste.
  • OffGridBox - Village Shop: Village Shop provides rural communities with electricity and drinking water at far lower cost than more polluting sources.

Theme: Digital Divide & Digital Literacy

Challenge: How can people in remote areas access and use reliable and affordable internet connectivity?

Total solutions received: 172

Finalists include:

  • Changing Lives Through Affordable Internet: Poa Smart Towers are based on low cost WiFi technology and radically change the cost of delivering internet access in rural areas.
  • The Rumie Initiative: The Rumie Initiative uses innovative technology to deliver online learning resources to communities with limited or no internet connectivity.
  • Digital Access through Renewable Technology (DART): BuffaloGrid (BG) has developed a scalable network of solar powered smartphone charging Hubs for off-grid regions.
  • Gram Marg Solution for Sustainable Rural Connectivity in India: Gram Marg is a low-cost, affordable solution capable of operating within the TV band to provide rural broadband services.

Theme: Rural Transformation & Zero Hunger

Challenge: How can farmers in less developed countries increase food and cash crop yields through advanced methods of sustainable agricultural production and preservation?

Total solutions received: 429

Finalists include:

  • Inga Alley Cropping for Sustainable Farming: Inga Alley Cropping uses nitrogen-fixing tree species to regenerate land and transform the lives of subsistence farming families.
  • TruTrade: Connecting Smallholder Farmers to Buyers: TruTrade uses an innovative web and mobile enabled platform to integrate smallholder farmers into sustainable markets in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Safi Sarvi: Decentralizing High-Yield Fertilizer Production: Safi Sarvi improves harvest yield and income by up to 30% for the same cost farmers pay for fertilizer inputs.
  • Sponsh: Water From Air Without Energy: Sponsh is a tempera ture-sensitive smart textile that produces water from air, helping to address water shortage in dry, coastal areas.

Press Contact: 
Reethu Thachil
Communications Manager
M Three Marcomms LLC
Press Office for:
Global Manufacturing & Industrialisation Summit
Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity
+971 55 35 00715/

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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