18 social entrepreneurs vie for Expo Live funds

At least 18 social entrepreneurs and start-ups from 16 countries have pitched their projects on innovative solutions to a panel of experts in Dubai this week.

They have sought expert support and a share of the US$100 million funding from Expo Live.

Expo Live is an innovation and partnership programme launched by Expo 2020 Dubai to fund, accelerate and promote creative solutions that improve lives while preserving the planet.

Through its flagship Innovation Impact Grants Programme, the initiative awards grants of up to $100,000 to support the growth of social enterprises, start-ups and grassroots projects around the world.

The second edition of the programme has attracted more than 500 applicants from 86 countries from across the world, with the 18 finalists this week spending three days in Dubai fine-tuning their pitches and networking with other finalists, as well as representatives of Expo 2020 Dubai and its partners.

Earlier this year, the first round of recipients for grants were announced following a similar process, with 29 projects from 22 countries receiving the Innovation Impact Grants, including three from the UAE.

This week’s sessions culminated with pitches to evaluation panels made up of Expo Live representatives and experts from a number of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Premier Partners, including DP World, Emirates NDB, Etisalat, SAP and Siemens.

Also in attendance were embassy representatives from several countries from around the world, including Afghanistan, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ecuador, Italy, India, Nigeria, Philippines, St Kitts and Nevis, United Kingdom and the United States.

The pitches and applications will now be reviewed and the successful candidates will be revealed later this year.

"These past three days have been about connecting minds for the common good, and ensuring that innovative local solutions are recognised and given the opportunity to develop and grow on a global scale," said Yousuf Caires, Expo 2020 Dubai’s Vice-President of Expo Live.

"Through Expo Live, Expo 2020 Dubai is ensuring that innovation is promoted and rewarded, to bring meaningful changes to communities that need it, and support the growth of projects that will improve lives around the world," he added.

Expo Live’s flagship Innovation Impact Grant programme is open for submission twice a year. The programme supports projects from around the world whose solutions generate social and environmental value, and are in line with Expo 2020 Dubai’s sub-themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

Dubai will be hosting the first World Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, MEASA, region and the Arab World.

The third round of the Expo Live Innovation Impact Grant will open for submissions on 20th September. Interested applicants can apply on the Expo Live website.