On 1 October 2021, Expo 2020 Dubai will open to the public, embarking visitors on a discovery of its theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, through educational and immersive exhibitions and events. Less than six months before it opens, the achievements of the Expo Live programme demonstrates the real-life impact that Expo 2020 Dubai is already having around the world. Yousuf Caires, Senior Vice President, Expo Live, explains the importance of this unique initiative and offers a glimpse of how Expo 2020 Dubai is delivering positive change.

The Expo Live programme is a core aspect of Expo 2020 Dubai and one of its most spoken-about initiatives in the pre-Expo phase. What is the idea behind the programme?

Yousuf Caires: Expo Live comprises the Innovation Impact Grant Programme (IIGP) and the University Innovation Programme (UIP), and supports projects with innovative, creative solutions that are making a real impact on people’s lives and helping communities across the world build a brighter future.

It was inspired by a promise that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, made when the UAE was bidding to host the next World Expo. He dedicated a fund, and wanted us to find innovators and to bring them to Expo 2020 Dubai.

“Innovation can come from anywhere, to everyone”

His Highness wanted Expo 2020 Dubai to be inclusive in all elements, including hosting innovations and ideas from every corner of the globe and not just from traditional places of innovation. Having completed five cycles of the Innovation Impact Grant Programme, Expo Live received more than 11,000 applications from 184 countries, and is currently supporting 140 grantees from 76 countries, truly showing that innovation can come from anywhere, to everyone.

By their very nature, World Expos bring together ideas and solutions and share them with the rest of the world. Does Expo Live perpetuate this mission?

Yousuf Caires: Expo Live embodies Expo 2020 Dubai’s aim to bring together people, communities and nations to collaborate and innovate to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Apart from receiving financial support and being part of a global community of like-minded social entrepreneurs, our innovators have the launchpad of a World Expo to advocate their missions, grow their networks and become an inspiration to the millions of visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai.

The most inclusive and international World Expo ever, Expo 2020 Dubai will be a platform for more than 200 participants, including 190-plus nations, businesses, multilateral organisations and educational institutions, as well as millions of individuals, to form meaningful partnerships that can positively impact global change.

“Expo Live supports grantees that offer access to education for communities across the world to unlock opportunities that can shape the future”

Science, technology and innovation are playing a key role in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact around the world. How is Expo Live encouraging innovative solutions in this field?

Yousuf Caires: Science, technology and innovation are not possible without access to quality and relevant education. Expo Live addresses this critical need by supporting grantees that offer access to education for communities across the world to unlock opportunities that can shape the future.

For example, Ustad Mobile is a UAE-based edtech start-up that connects teachers and students without the need for internet, increasing access to education for students and boosting earning capacity for teachers.

CoderDojo is a community-based programme in Ireland designed to teach children how to code. It is using the Expo Live grant to support and train a new generation of mentors and role models.

Like a lot of start-ups around the world, many of the Global Innovators have been affected by the pandemic, and we are very much conscious of this. That’s why in March 2020, Expo Live launched an Emergency Relief Fund, inviting existing Global Innovators to apply for additional grant funding.

As an outcome of this initiative, we managed to fund 15 organisations from 13 countries that were facing immediate financial hardship, allowing them to continue making positive change in their communities.

When Expo 2020 Dubai opens its gates to the public on 1 October, how will visitors on the site be able to discover the Expo Live programme and the projects it supports?

Yousuf Caires: Expo Live is a truly unique start-up programme that gives unmatched opportunity for exposure that comes with being a Global Innovator. Expo 2020 Dubai will offer a unique platform to Expo Live Global Innovators with its own home during the event – the Emirati-designed Expo Live Pavilion located in the Opportunity District.

Known as ‘The Good Place’, the pavilion will inspire visitors to become change-makers by showcasing social innovators supported by Expo Live that are having a measurable impact on people’s lives across the world.

“The Good Place will inspire visitors to become change-makers”

What legacy do you see for the Expo Live programme, in Dubai and around the world?

Yousuf Caires: Legacy has been at the centre of Expo 2020 Dubai’s planning since the beginning, as well as Expo Live’s planning.

The legacy of Expo Live is the impact that the grantees have created in their communities across the world while being part of the programme. Each story is different, but nevertheless important. We see children receiving academic support in refugee communities, farmers saving for agricultural supplies and training, vaccines delivered in remote areas, and so much more – all of which has become possible thanks to Expo Live.

“Expo 2020 Dubai will be a platform for participants and individuals to form meaningful partnerships that can positively impact global change”

Expo Live is also creating a more powerful impact by teaming up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support grass-roots innovators addressing a range of complex humanitarian challenges, particularly in the areas of water, sanitation, health, agriculture and financial inclusion. This collaboration demonstrates the importance that Expo 2020 Dubai and the UAE places on collaborating across borders to create a better future for everyone.

For more information on the Expo Live programme and its grantees, visit the official website.

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