Islamic Development Bank to support pioneering ideas in the fight against COVID-19 via US$ 500m Transform Fund

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has announced that its latest “call for innovation” will focus on supporting member countries’ long-term preparedness and response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched in 2018, the IsDB’s Transform Fund invests in early stage innovative ideas and the scaling of innovations by providing seed money for innovators, entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs and institutions that need initial funding and growth capital to develop their ideas. For this call for innovation, IsDB will financially support ideas that help curb the spread of COVID-19, minimise the socio-economic impact of the pandemic and build the resilience of the Bank’s member countries in responding to outbreaks and pandemics long-term.

His Excellency Dr. Bandar Hajjar, President, Islamic Development Bank Group, said: “One of the many issues this pandemic has shown us is that survival depends on heavily on investment in science, technology and innovation. We encourage entrants that have innovations with a focus on advanced technology, innovative health supply chain management, low cost rapid tests and capacity building innovations. We have identified these key categories for innovation as the building blocks for preparedness and response in tackling present and future outbreaks and pandemics.”

The latest call for innovation via the Transform Fund is the latest in a series of commitments from IsDB to help member countries cope with the adverse impacts of COVID-19. Earlier this month, ISDB announced a comprehensive $2 billion package based on the “Respond, Restore, Restart” principles.

Open from 1 April 2020, the call for innovation will identify, encourage and reward innovative proposals that will benefit local communities focused on the following:

  1. The application of advanced technology, such as IoT, Big Data, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence to track and monitor the spread of COVID-19 and other emerging Infectious diseases for improved diseases surveillance systems and patient care
  2. Innovative health supply chain management systems, powerful search engine of medical supplies, new Biosafety Laboratory Level-3 Design technology and biocontainment
  3. The development of low-cost rapid tests and screening methods, such as Point-of-Care rapid tests, molecular tests and diagnostic test quality, for early detection, diagnostic, treatment and prevention solutions including vaccine production for COVID-19
  4. Capacity building interventions targeted at improving operational capacities of health care providers in the field epidemiology and infection control management of highly pathogenic cases, such as training, deployment of software applications, awareness campaigns, service delivery or research centres.

The Fund will look for applications specifically linked to tackling COVID-19 in relation to the following six UN Sustainable Development Goals:

  • SDG2: zero hunger
  • SDG3: good health and well-being
  • SDG4: Quality education
  • SDG6: clean water and sanitation
  • SDG7: affordable and clean energy
  • SDG9: industry innovation and infrastructure

The categories of application are:

  • Category 1: New Ideas with Proof of Concept, Funding Opportunity: Grants ranging from US$ 50,000-100,000
  • Category 2: Scaling up of Innovative Projects, Funding Opportunity: Equity Participation up to US$ 300,000
  • Category 3: Commercialization of Technology Funding Opportunity: Equity Participation up to US$ 1,000,000
  • Category 4: Capacity Building in Science, Technology and Innovation Funding Opportunity: Grants ranging from US$ 100,000-150,000

  The submission for application is open from 1 April to 1 June 2020.