Cambridge, UK, 10th December 2018 – The conventional development model is no longer able to address the pressing issues of rapid urbanisation in countries all over the world. With the global population rapidly expanding in cities, investing in science, technology and innovation is the only way to ensure socio-economic development in lower and middle countries, participants of the inaugural Transformers Summit, hosted by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), heard today.

Claire Perry MP, Minister for Growth and Clean Energy, UK Government; Richard Curtis, writer, director and SDG Activist, and David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer, Sierra Leone and Dame Polly Courtice, Director of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership were among those to join H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar in Cambridge to discuss the pressing issues of accelerating progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11, which sets the agenda and global targets for inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.

The key themes of the Summit included how to create new jobs, ensure access to safe and affordable housing, develop green public spaces, and improve urban planning and management in a way that is both participatory and inclusive for all.

President of the IsDB Group, Dr. Bandar M.H. Hajjar, said: “Unsustainable cities are burdening the future of our societies, and without definitive commitment to invest in innovative technologies our cities will remain unprepared for the challenges associated with rapid urbanisation. Smart solutions do not involve only access to affordable housing, clean energy, or investment in public transport, or creating green public spaces. It is more than that. It is the quality of life that goes beyond the physical dimension. It is about how to make people live a more relaxed, secure, meaningful, enjoyable, and productive life.”

The Transformers Summit is one of many initiatives launched by Dr. Bandar Hajjar since her took office in 2016 as he puts forward his transformative vision for the future of financing development initiatives.

Claire Perry MP, Minister for Growth and Clean Energy, UK Government, said: “Cities are the engines of growth, but everyone experiences the increasing climate pressures and lack of investment in sustainable solutions. For rapidly growing cities in developing world, low carbon, low cost techniques and innovation are essential. The funding gap for development can’t be met by governments alone, innovation will drive economic growth and increase the value chain and skills for local economies.”

Richard Curtis, SDG Activist and Founder of Project Everyone, said: “The whole point about the Sustainable Development Goals is that you fight as long as you can for the one you believe strongest about. Every country needs to work equally hard on solving their issues and working towards achieving the Goals. Scientists and innovators, who are choosing to use their talents to help their communities and cities become sustainable, are doing the right thing, and I’m pleased to see the level of investment they received from the Islamic Development Bank.”

The Summit was a culmination of the IsDB’s Transformers Academy week, which brought together the recipients of the IsDB’s Transform Fund - a $500 million fund providing seed money for some of the world’s most innovative start-ups and SMEs to develop their ideas and facilitate the commercialization of technology among the IsDB’s member countries. During the week, the Transformers from more than 10 countries participated in a number of workshops to bolster their key business skills across commercialisation, investment strategy, capacity building and leadership and communications.

Welcoming the Transform Fund recipients in Cambridge, Dr Hayat Sindi, Chief Scientific Advisor to the President, said: “We are committed to investing in science, technology and innovations-led projects not only through seed funding, but also through leadership, guidance and ongoing mentorship. Today we are celebrating Transformers from all parts of the world, and we are excited to see how our support and guidance will help them to create prosperous businesses, which change and inspire future generations.”

Dr. Hayat Sindi also announced the launch of IsDB Innovate, an innovative platform to support projects in international development, created by the Islamic Development Bank. IsDB Innovate seeks out and funds cutting-edge science, technology, and innovation projects around the world.

The Summit ended with an invitation from the President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall, to the second edition of the Transformers Summit, which will take place in Senegal in 2019.