Innovate4Good, I4G, a sourcing, networking, and innovation platform for the impact startup ecosystem, is inviting innovative and ambitious changemakers from the MENA region and beyond to join its CovHack Virtual Innovation Challenge. The challenge is taking place in collaboration with UN75, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MOCCAE, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, KFED, Catalyst, Youth 4 Sustainability, and STRATECIS.
Online registration is open until June 18 to startups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, young professionals, tech talent, and individual innovators under two categories: Early-Stage Startups and Teams.
The CovHack Innovation Challenge is running under the theme Circular Economy for Food that corresponds to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. It aims to discover innovative ways of building resilience in local and global food supply chains through shifting towards a circular economy in the post-Covid-19 world, and as mankind plans for the future.
Online registration is open to startups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, young professionals, tech talent, and individual innovators under two categories: Early-Stage Startups and Teams
This CovHack Challenge is particularly significant, as it is taking place in the context of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. To mark the jubilee, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has launched the world’s biggest conversation to listen to the views of the public, and notably young people, about the world’s challenges and potential solutions.
Since the start of the initiative in January 2020, findings from 186 countries have indicated overwhelming support for global cooperation, and even more so since the Covid-19 outbreak. Moreover, climate and the environment topped the list of issues that will most affect the future in the survey of over 40,000 respondents. All participants in the UN75 dialogue will contribute to the world’s biggest conversation towards the United Nations’ centennial in 2045.
In the first round, the judges will shortlist 20 of the best ideas in each of the two categories. The 40 startups and teams will then undergo mentorship to help them further develop their ideas and prototypes into viable solutions before the final project submission. Twenty solutions will then be chosen to proceed to the semi-finals. The event will culminate in the CovHack Virtual Demo Day on July 20-21. The winner in each category will receive incubation, mentorship, and acceleration opportunities.
40 startups and teams will undergo mentorship to help them further develop their ideas and prototypes into viable solutions before the final project submission
His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The UAE leadership realises the severity of the challenges facing humanity at present, and the vital role innovation plays in addressing them. Targeting the crucial topic of food security, the challenge builds on our country’s solid track record in bringing people together to come up with groundbreaking solutions to urgent global issues, as well as in supporting those who need it the most.”
Speaking on the organisation’s involvement in the challenge, Fabrizio Hochschild, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Preparations for the Commemorations of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, said: “We will miss an unprecedented opportunity if we don’t use this crisis not only to recover but to recover better, in a manner that sets our communities, our countries, and our world on a healthier path economically, environmentally, and socially. The circular economy is one very important field where new, inspiring, and groundbreaking solutions can be found and achieved. The UN75 Global Dialogue is about allowing people everywhere to have their say on the world they want, where they see the threats, and what their expectations are of global cooperation to address them. So, do join the conversation and speak up! Your voice will be heard.”
Reiterating the commitment of the Abu Dhabi Government to supporting the CovHack Innovation Challenge, His Excellency Mohammad Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of KFED, said: “KFED is proud to be part of this ongoing initiative, which we believe is both timely and strategic, especially as the world is currently facing the pandemic spread of the novel coronavirus. This global crisis has also had a significant impact on the global food supply chains, and initiatives such as TheCovHack help create solutions needed to achieve food self-sufficiency and food security.”
He noted that the challenge has successfully integrated entrepreneurship, innovation, and the move towards food security through the implementation of truly exceptional projects and ideas. In addition, he reaffirmed KFED’s support in the form of providing essential financial, administrative, and technical consultations, including key training courses that enable the participants to develop successful business models.
Cinar Kurra, CEO of Catalyst, said: “Catalyst is happy to collaborate with I4G’s CovHack Challenge and contribute to accelerating startup innovation in circular economy for food as an effective tool to attain sustainable development and lasting social impact.”
“Catalyst will offer winning startups, should they meet our standard screening process, the chance to participate in our acceleration programme with up to $190,000 of funding opportunity, which includes incubation and acceleration for a period of six months, free office space, multi-discipline lab access at the new expansion centre, and access to our network for a pilot application.”
Ara Fernezian, Founder and CEO of STRATECIS and Chief Innovation and Experience Officer at Innovate4Good, said: “We are privileged and honoured to collaborate with the UN75 Initiative, MOCCAE, KFED, Catalyst, and Y4S to accelerate startup innovation for the greater good. I4G is committed to sourcing and supporting the most innovative, impactful, and ambitious startups that aspire to solve the world’s most pressing societal and environmental challenges. We trust that through the CovHack Innovation Challenge, we can express our solidarity with the community through fostering innovation and collaboration.”