The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) unites the world’s top innovators and global experts at the third-annual Transformers Academy culminating in the launch of a new investment arm focused on enabling investment in innovation

Last week, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) held its third-annual Transformers Academy convening entrepreneurs and innovators from across the world in celebration of the trailblazing projects accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fighting against Covid-19.

The week culminated in an announcement that the IsDB Transform Fund has taken a historic step to build the foundations for growth – for both the Transform fund and Transformers – by setting up a dedicated investment arm. In doing this, the IsDB will maximize its ability to execute quality investments in innovation, increase its ability to reach innovators and entrepreneurs and mobilize more capital to address longer-term development needs in its member countries. It will also play a crucial role in helping to connect investment capital with the entrepreneurs and innovators transforming the development space.

The Academy – which focused on supporting both budding innovators and experienced entrepreneurs – played host to inspirational talks and sessions from leading experts such as Bernhard Kowatsch, Head of Innovation, World Food Programme and Natalie Munyampenda, Chief Executive Officer at Kepler. Speakers discussed key topics ranging from the importance of vision as a driving force behind achieving substantial SDGs to the value of Intellectual Property.

This year’s Academy saw over 30 Transformers showcase the promising innovations and businesses set to receive funding as part of the Transform Fund, established by IsDB in 2016. Some of the Academy’s innovators included:

Wala Saadeh, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering Lahore University of Management Science.

Wala has developed a vitals-monitoring device for COVID-19 patients that is wirelessly connected to the health-care providers. This will be the world’s first “complete” vitals monitoring System-on-Chip that measures the body temperature, heart rate, and its variability, blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), respiratory rate, and blood pressure.

Dr. Muhammad Munir Hussain, Programme Analyst on Adolescent and Youth, at UNFPA Bangladesh.

Muhammad has created a digital platform addressing the lack of information on COVID-19 among adolescents, youth and communities in Bangladesh. The platform provides contextualized information on the pandemic, on sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender and gender-based violence.

Charlotte Hawkins, PHD Student, University College London.

Charlotte has created a tele-psychotherapy service that will allow people to get mental health information and remote counselling using voice calls, SMS and social media. The service will be focused on using digital health to alleviate the growing burden of mental health problems in Uganda.

In a keynote speech, H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar, President of the IsDB, said: “The development challenge ahead is an enormous one, but the IsDB has been actively making strides in this area, most significantly with our science, technology and innovation fund, Transform – accelerating progress in cities worldwide. This year especially, we have turned our attentions to using the fund to support projects using innovative solutions to fight against Covid-19. Building on this, we’re excited to announce the launch of our new investment arm which will enable us to invest in innovation that is changing the world of development.”

Dr. Hayat Sindi, Senior Advisor to the President of the IsDB, Science, Technology and Innovation said: “Great ideas can come from all walks of life and at the IsDB, we are committed to turning visions into reality. The serious impact of Covid-19 has been apparent across the globe and this year’s Transformers have played an important role in using innovation to help overcome the development challenges we face. Now more than ever, the vital role of science, technology and innovation is clear so I am pleased to announce the launch of our new investment arm that will connect investment capital with entrepreneurs and innovators driving change like this week’s Transformers.”

This year marks the Islamic Development Bank’s (IsDB) third edition of the Transformers Academy, this year held virtually for the first time. The Academy was inaugurated by H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar, IsDB President and Dr. Hayat Sindi, Chief Advisor to the IsDB President, Science, Technology and Innovation.

The Transformers Academy is comprised of the top innovators and entrepreneurs who were carefully selected to participate in the week among top applicants for the IsDB’s $500M Transform Fund. The fund was first established in 2018 with the mission of giving innovators and entrepreneurs the tools they need to help themselves, their communities and their countries.