Expo Live, a legacy project of Expo 2020 Dubai, is on the lookout for start-ups searching for concrete solutions to the climate crisis and combat global warming.
Selected companies will be awarded a $50,000 grant for work related to reforestation, reduction of greenhouse gases or improving agricultural productivity.
Successful innovators will have the opportunity to display their work at Cop28, scheduled at Expo City Dubai at the end of the year.
The Expo Live Innovation Programme has received 430 applications from around the world since its launch earlier this month.
“There was always the vision for Expo Live to remain post-Expo, but this round is very special because it’s aligned with Cop,” Yousuf Caires, executive director of the Expo Live Innovation Programme, told The National.
“We will give attention to projects that focus on climate-related solutions.
“We are in the year of sustainability and in the year when Expo City Dubai will host Cop28 come November.
“Bringing innovators here during the two weeks of Cop28 to exhibit their projects will give them the right exposure so they can be seen, participate in discussions and can connect even further.”
Who is eligible
To attend, entrepreneurs must have a registered company and their solution needs to be in the market or close to launch.
“They need to express the positive impact their solution creates for the environment, how it affects food security or adapts to the energy transition,” Mr Caires said.
There is no specific number of how many innovators will be selected, this will depend on the strength of applications received.
The focus will be on candidates with projects that can transform the lives of neglected communities coping with drought or floods.
“We are interested in innovations that address problems of water and food security, air pollution, sustainable consumption and production,” he said.
“We are keen to understand how their innovations can help people suffering the most.
“We are keen on understanding how these solutions are applicable to tough environments where there are natural disasters mostly due to climate change, where people are displaced due to lack of food.”
Entrepreneurs whose projects are shortlisted will be invited to deliver a 15-minute presentation before judges at Expo City Dubai after the Eid break, probably in April.
The winners will be announced two weeks later.
Authentic voices at Cop28
The mission is to bring grassroots organisations addressing environmental challenges to Cop28 when it runs in Dubai from November 30 to December 12.
“These will be authentic, grassroots voices that it is important for an event like Cop to have,” Mr Caires said.
“They are not going to come talk about how bad the situation is. They will come and say what they are doing to fix it.
“It’s a different way of looking at a challenge ― an optimistic and solvable way.”
The winning projects will also have the chance to network with foundations, banks and global organisations present at Cop28.
Their base will be the Good Place pavilion, an origami-inspired tent-like structure at the Expo site.
It is among the legacy pavilions that remain and is home to the Expo Live programme.
Expo Live was fundamental to Expo 2020 Dubai as it set out to improve the lives of marginalised groups across national borders.
The initiative received about 12,000 applications from 184 countries and picked 140 projects that were displayed during the six-month world fair.
The programmes received grants of between $100,000 and $500,000 and ranged from experiments to fly kites to harness energy for remote villages, collecting plastic bags to fund schooling, and support for farmers with accurate weather forecasts.
“Expo Live was really proving the point that we need to continue to look in all corners of the world for the right solutions that are relevant and make sense to the places where they come from,” Mr Caires said.
“Our innovators share this very strong belief that it’s up to them and that they are going to solve this, whether it's climate change, breathable air, improving agricultural production, moving to renewables.
“This is part of creating a community of innovators and start-ups.”
The deadline for submissions is March 1 and entrepreneurs can apply on the Expo City Dubai website.