Dubai: New event offers over Dh350,000 in prizes for university students’ most innovative projects

It will feature burgeoning academic talent from the world's most renowned institutions, including Harvard University, Oxford University and MIT

By Web Desk

Published: Thu 10 Nov 2022, 6:28 PM

A brand new event showcasing impact innovation projects developed by university students from across the world is all set to debut in Dubai this month.

Running from November 16-17, 2022, ‘Prototypes for Humanity’ will focus on catalysing action and mobilising organisations whose infrastructure, reach, and technical know-how can be leveraged to accelerate the implementation of impact innovation projects.

The term impact innovation represents collaborative projects that harness emerging technologies to create a measurable impact in solving critical problems that face humanity.

'Prototypes for Humanity' will act as an extension of the Global Grad Show – an annual exhibition of innovative university design projects held since 2015.

The event will be held under the patronage of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and member of the Dubai Council.

Groundbreaking solutions for global problems

Engaging university talent across science, technology and creative disciplines from over 100 countries, ‘Prototypes for Humanity’ resonates with Dubai’s entrepreneurial spirit and the agenda for COP28, to be hosted by the UAE at the end of 2023.

The inaugural event brings together trailblazing ideas, projects, and technologies, addressing critical challenges affecting humanity and aiming to raise awareness of global problems – and shine a spotlight on solutions and actions that have the power to solve them.

It will introduce 100 IP-backed, best-in-class impact innovation projects by university students proposing solutions for a better world. The selected projects illustrate the numerous and often unknown ramifications of global challenges, and demonstrate how diverse problem-solving perspectives are not only complementary, but necessary.

International participation

Projects shortlisted for the event were chosen from applications from over 450 universities across over 100 countries, ranging from leading globally renowned institutions like Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and ETH Zurich, to rising universities in the Global South.

The submissions also included a record number of universities from 25 African nations, and large emerging economies such as India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, and Turkey.

‘Prototypes for Humanity’ features unique projects from:

  • Oxford Medical School
  • MIT's aerospace engineering programme
  • Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government,
  • The University of Ibadan in Nigeria
  • University of Mexico Centro
  • Bakrie University in Indonesia
  • Cadi Ayyad University in Morocco,
  • The State University of Azerbaijan.

As part of the ‘Prototypes for Humanity Awards’, prizes worth $100,000 will be offered to the best projects in the fields of Environment, Health, Society, and Corporate Solutions.

The initiative will also engage the venture capital community, as well as private and institutional investors.

A new model for addressing challenges

Tadeu Baldani Caravieri, Director of ‘Prototypes for Humanity’, said: “When considering significant societal problems, like pollution or illiteracy, we see how they are systemic issues, but with very tangible manifestation all around us.

By looking at the solutions proposed by researchers from around the world, we can imagine a model that addresses these challenges in the reverse order, from the micro to the macro.


Academia can clearly resolve most of the technical, concrete facets of pollution and illiteracy, for example. What we want to investigate through the ‘Prototypes for Humanity’ programme is how to mobilise a consortium of organisations that can onboard these innovations and tackle these problems at a macro level, on a global scale, together.”

This year's applications reflect a shift in thinking about impact: from innovation for an uncertain future to urgent, more concrete, and quickly-deployable solutions anchored in viability.

The entries also demonstrate that academic research is not happening in a vacuum, but rather within a context of collaboration and opportunity, with clear influences from the start-up culture that makes university projects noticeably grounded in the real world.

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