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Global Maker Challenge Finalists Tackling Food, Trade, Justice, Circularity

This year’s global challenges centered around four themes: Sustainable and Healthy Food for All, Climate Change/Circular Economy, Innovation for Inclusive Trade, and Innovation for Peace and Justice.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity has chosen 20 finalists for its second annual Global Maker Challenge. The finalists will compete for prizes and mentorship worth up to US$1 million when they present their solutions during a series of Virtual Pitches that will commence on August 31, 2020; in the lead up to the virtual Global Maker Challenge Award Ceremony on September 6.

Created by Mohammed bin Rashid — the VP and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai — the Global Prosperity Initiative unites the world’s leading manufacturers, startups and entrepreneurs, governments, UN agencies and philanthropists, academia and researchers in a community dedicated to spreading global prosperity through the art of ‘making.’ Collectively, they seek innovations that positively contribute to the well-being of our world while fostering resilience, community, harmony and dignity.

The 20 finalists, comprising five innovators for each of this year’s themes, were assessed and shortlisted in partnership with MIT SOLVE and a jury of 47 experts from UN agencies, global organizations, NGOs and academia.

This year’s global challenges center around four themes

Sustainable and healthy food for all

By 2050, global food systems will need to sustainably and nutritiously feed nearly 10 billion people, and 80 percent of the world’s food will be consumed within urban areas. The challenge to ensure that everyone in the world can feed themselves has become intertwined with concerns around which foods we are consuming, where we are eating them, and how they are produced and distributed — with the many flaws in our food distribution systems now laid bare by COVID-19.

With food systems evolving in response to the rapid changes in our population, cities are positioned to significantly influence how and what we eat. This Challenge seeks innovative solutions that will promote urban access to healthy and sustainable food for all.

Finalists:

Image credit: Xilinat

  • ColdHubs — provider of solar-powered, walk-in cold storage for perishable foods for rural farmers in developing countries.

  • IXON — developer of advanced sous-vide aseptic packaging (ASAP) technology that enables the sterilization of food at room temperature.

  • Xilinat — creators of a sustainable, biotechnological process to transform agricultural waste into a low-calorie sugar substitute that looks and tastes identical to sugar.

  • Stixfresh — creators of stickers that create a protective layer around fresh produce to slow down spoilage, providing economic benefit for small farmers without climate-controlled warehouses.

  • Nilus — a social enterprise and digital marketplace that makes affordable and healthy food accessible for low-income communities.

Climate change/circular economy

Image credit: Biocellection

The transition from a linear to circular economy has become widely accepted by businesses and policymakers alike as a new model for resilient growth. But, while developing countries and emerging markets are the current centers of production and increasing centers of consumption, minimal attention has been afforded to the role they can and must play in the shift towards a global circular economy. Without the implementation of a successful circular economy model in emerging markets, we will not see the necessary shift in consumption and production patterns worldwide.

Innovation can be a powerful force driving our transition towards an inclusive, circular economy. This Global Maker Challenge on Climate Change aims to find and support solutions from startups and entrepreneurs around the world that will empower communities, especially those in developing countries, to eliminate waste and use existing resources through low-carbon, circular approaches.

Finalists:

  • AlgiKnit — a sustainable fiber for the fashion industry that is biodegradable, comfortable and low-cost.

  • Aquacycl — the first commercially viable Microbial Fuel Cell capable of generating electricity from wastewater.

  • Queen of Raw — an online marketplace designed for trading unused textiles to reduce landfill.

  • Plastics for Change — an ethical sourcing platform that provides sustainable livelihoods and expedites transition towards a circular economy.

  • Biocellection — an innovation capable of upcycling unrecyclable plastic waste into performance materials for fashion and 3D printing.

Innovation for inclusive trade

Image credit: POKET

Open trade and market access have proven to be key drivers of economic growth and poverty reduction in countries at every level of development. The ability to trade globally has fostered more openness, stability, and transparency, which in turn has enabled unprecedented economic growth worldwide and contributed to uplifting hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty.

Yet, for the millions of people living in rural areas — where extreme poverty and food insecurity are concentrated — significant barriers exist that prevent them from reaping the full benefits of open trade, including poor and unreliable access to infrastructure and public services, high costs for goods, services, and transport, lower population densities, and poor connectivity. These issues are especially prevalent in countries affected by violence and conflict, which can directly hinder the ability to trade and raise the price of basic goods and services. This Challenge seeks solutions that will enable inclusive trade in rural communities.

Finalists:

  • Agricycle Global — a zero-electricity, post-harvest food-drying technology that connects rural farmers to international markets.

  • Fantine — a blockchain-enabled marketplace that allows coffee farmers to transact directly with roasters and buyers.

  • POKET — a crowd-sourced registry of offline merchants capable of mapping last-mile rural supply chains.

  • Takachar — a portable technology that enables smallholder farmers to convert crop residues into a biomass that allows them to participate in the global market.

  • ChapChap — a digital platform that helps small businesses keep track of transactions and perform basic accounting.

Innovation for Peace and Justice

Image credit: Simbi Foundation

The world is seeing the highest levels of forced displacement on record. There are now almost 71 million people who have been forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations — including nearly 26 million refugees, half of whom are under the age of 18. Worldwide, one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds. To ensure that this rapidly increasing number of people are able to lead healthy and productive lives for themselves, equitable access to services such as legal protection programs, healthcare, and education is key.

In our increasingly interconnected world, forced displacement cannot be treated as a short-term humanitarian issue, nor can it be addressed by just one country or sector. This Challenge seeks innovative solutions that will connect refugees and forcibly displaced populations with enduring and effective legal, healthcare and education services. 

Finalists:

  • Peripheral Vision International — an application using gamification and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology to ease learning for refugees.

  • ID2020 — a user-managed, digital ID platform that allows displaced people greater ownership of their own healthcare records, educational attainment information, and professional credentials.

  • PeaceTech Lab — provider of world-class legal services and technology skills training offered online in refugee camps.

  • Simbi Foundation — developer of solar-powered, centralized learning hubs that provide access to digital education.

  • Aiyin — provider of virtual-reality learning spaces for facilities without the physical and monetary capacity to build real ones.

The finalists were selected from over 3,400 solutions that were submitted for this year’s cohort — a 200 percent increase from last year's inaugural cohort. Solutions from over 148 countries were received, of which 18 percent came in from Least Developed Countries.

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