In Collaboration with UN Agencies, Challenge Design Workshops held in Geneva, Cambridge, and Amman to Address World’s Most Pressing Challenges, Marking the Start of the Initiative’s Second Cohort 

DUBAI, UAE — 23 June 2019The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity (the Global Prosperity Initiative), an initiative of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), announces today that it has started preparations for the launch of its second cohort, re-affirming its commitment to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity partnered with United Nations (UN) agencies – United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Food Programme (WFP), and World Tourism Organization  (UNWTO) – to identify themes related to some of the world’s most pressing issues that will lay the foundation to establish the challenges for the next edition of the US$1 million Global Maker Challenge. In the process, UN representatives have cited many impending problems that require urgent attention including a lack of infrastructure for sustainable and healthy food, social conflicts which result in lack of peace and justice, inequality between urban and rural areas, and the growing global concern towards climate change.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity conducted three challenge design workshops at strategically selected locations – Geneva, Switzerland, home to the second largest office site of the United Nations; Cambridge, United Kingdom, heart of world-class technology innovation and home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, the University of Cambridge; and Amman, Jordan, which has one of the world's largest refugee camps. Following a design thinking approach, the workshops brought together policy makers, industrial technology experts, academic representatives, and some of the world’s leading incubators, accelerators and start-ups and SMEs to engage in in-depth round-table discussions that provided an informed and holistic perspective on real-world problems. In collaboration with the UN agencies, the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity will analyse the content and results of the interactive workshop discussions in order to frame actionable questions that define the challenges under each of the four themes, which will then be announced at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in September 2019.

Badr Al-Olama, Head of the Organising Committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), said: “The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity has shown us that innovation, when redirected towards global good, has tremendous potential to solve real-world challenges and make the world a better place. The initiative’s power lies in our network of partners, like-minded individuals from government, business, academia, start-ups, and entrepreneurs that work together towards a better cause. The Challenge Design Workshops are a critical step in the process which enables us to identify the challenges that need to be addressed.”

The first workshop was held in Geneva, Switzerland, alongside ITU’s AI For Good, Global Summit, on 31 May 2019, and was opened by Obaid Salem Al Zaabi, the UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organisations in Geneva, and Dr. Eun-Ju KIM, Chief at Innovation and Partnership Department (IP), BDT/International Telecommunication Union. 

His Excellency Obaid Salem Al Zaabi, Ambassador/UAE Permanent Representative to the U. N. and Other International Organizations in Geneva, said: “Since its establishment, the United Arab Emirates has worked hard for the benefit of all mankind. Its initiatives have become an integral part of the country’s culture and its people. We are proud of the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity for launching its second edition that will enable innovators and entrepreneurs from across the world to turn their ideas into reality and theories into solutions that can solve pressing issues that affect the lives of communities all around the world. We are confident that the dynamic minds gathered here today, along with the support of UN agencies and organisations, will help drive productive dialogue that will result in identifying the most critical questions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.” 

The workshop was attended by senior representatives from UN entities and governments, technologist and academia. Workshop participants were invited to develop questions that would explore how disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Big Data, can address issues related to climate change, food security, refugee immigration, and bridging the inequality between urban and rural areas. 

On 4 June 2019, the second Challenge Design Workshop was conducted at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) and gathered academics and researchers, as well as youth and start-ups to further develop the themes at hand. The workshop was attended by Ahmad Al Abdooli, UAE’s Head of Political Affairs and Youssef Hassane, UAE’s Chief Economic Adviser from the Embassy of the UAE in London, United Kingdom. The Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) was instrumental in several activities that lead to the success of the first cohort, and supported the organisation of  the Cambridge workshop for the second edition. 

Commenting on the need for open innovation to drive global prosperity, Dr Carlos Lopez-Gomez, Head of Policy Links at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), University of Cambridge said: “By bringing together a truly international community of ‘makers,’ the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity shows the world how innovation efforts can, in practice, be geared towards the realisation of the SDGs. The IfM shares this vision for creating ‘real-world’ impact through innovation. Whether we are exploring better ways to produce carbon nanotubes, to design more resilient supply chains, or to develop more effective innovation policies, what we all share at IfM is a passion for manufacturing a better world.”

The workshop was followed by a panel discussion focused on achieving the SDGs through open innovation. Chaired by Professor Sir Mike Gregory, former Head of the Institute for Manufacturing, the panel included Sunyoung Suh from the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP) at the Department of Energy at United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Belinda Bell from Cambridge Social Ventures, Dr Lara Allen from Cambridge-based Centre for Global Equality, and Manuel Ossa from the World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator.

In collaboration with UNHCR, UN- Habitat, and UNIDO, the third challenge design workshop took place in Amman, Jordan on 12 June. His Excellency Faisal Ahmed Al Malek, Vice Ambassador of United Arab Emirates to Jordan, Sulafa Mdanat, UNIDO Country Representative for Jordan, and Deema Abu Thiab, National Programme Coordinator (NPC), Jordan, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) were in attendance. With the aim of securing input from a variety of stakeholders, the workshop attracted civil servants, UN representatives, NGOs, academia, incubators, accelerators, government, business, and industry associations. The workshop also brought over 20 refugees from the host communities of Zaatari Refugee Camp, which is home to over 78,597 refugees, to fully comprehend the needs of the refugees and to ensure the Initiative's work reflects the views and interests of all the groups. 

His Excellency Faisal Ahmed Al Malek, Vice Ambassador of United Arab Emirates to Jordan said: “The Global Prosperity Initiative stays to true to getting closer to real-world problems, as seen by the Challenge Design Workshop in Amman. It is critical that we think beyond a refugee’s basic survival. The workshop presented the opportunity to work closely with the people who interact with the refugees on a day to day basis to fully understand the risks and challenges they face and the opportunities that might enable them to transform their lives for the better.” 

Hesham Al-Olama, Head of the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity said: “The locations of the challenge design workshops were strategically selected to ensure we are engaging with stakeholders from different backgrounds. Each workshop contributed to the initiative in its own unique way and we are looking forward to analyzing the results and announcing the challenges in September at the UN General Assembly in New York. Cohort 1 was extremely successful, with over 1,100 solutions submitted from more than 80 countries, and we have no doubt that Cohort 2 will be as successful.”

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  Sustainable Development Goals.

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Note to Editors:

Photo Caption:

Image 1 - Hesham Al-Olama, Head of the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity speaking at the Challenge Design workshop in Amman highlighting how the locations of the workshops were strategically selected to ensure it  engaged with stakeholders from different backgrounds.

Image 2 - Badr Al-Olama, Head of the Organising Committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit highlights how the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity has shown that innovation, when redirected towards global good, has tremendous potential to solve real-world challenges and make the world a better place.

Image 3 - The second Challenge Design Workshop was conducted at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) and gathered academics and researchers, youth, start-ups as well as members of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in London, United Kingdom including Ahmad Al Abdooli, UAE’s Head of Political Affairs and Youssef Hassane, UAE’s Chief Economic Adviser.

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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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