The Islamic Development Bank Launches $500M Innovation Fund to Fuel Economic Growth in Developing World

The Transform Fund is a multimillion dollar fund set to tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges through the power of science, technology and innovation

IsDB also announced new Board of Trustees for Transform Fund which includes Mehmet Simsek (Deputy PM of Turkey), Helle Thorning-Schmidt (CEO Save the Children International) and Richard Curtis (Creator of Project Everyone, Film Writer and Director)

3rd April 2018:The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) – one of the world’s largest multilateral development banks – has announced the launch of a new $500M fund supporting science, technology and innovation initiatives that will tackle development challenges around the globe. 

The Transform Fund will work in line with UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, accelerating progress towards achieving greater food security, healthier lives, inclusive and equitable education, sustainable management of water and sanitation, access to affordable and clean energy, and sustainable industrialization across the developing world.  

The Transform Fund will provide seed money for start-ups and SMEs to develop their ideas and facilitate the commercialization of technology among the IsDB’s member countries, many of which are developing nations. Innovators, scientists, SMEs private companies, NGOs, Governments and academic institutions are all eligible to apply for funding from Transform via its website. 

Transform will run in tandem with IsDB’s new online hub, ENGAGE which launched last month and is designed to connect innovators in the world’s developing communities with market opportunities and funding. 

Speaking at the launch event for the fund, taking place during IsDB group’s Annual General Meeting in Tunisia, H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar, President of the Islamic Development Bank said: 

“The Islamic Development Bank understands that people living in the developing world need more than just grant funding. They need sustainable solutions to help them build their own way out of poverty. At the same time, we do need to offer access to the resources they need to realize their goals and change the world. That is why we have launched Transform. We know that real financial support in the science and technology sectors is needed in order to drive inclusive and sustainable development.   Transform will ensure our members have access to a vital flow of financing facilities to help finance innovative ideas linked to real development solutions.” 

The fund launch was led by Dr. Hayat Sindi, Chief Scientific Advisor to the IsDB and member of the UN Scientific Advisory Board. 

Dr. Hayat Sindi said: “We believe all people have the right to live in dignity. Just because you are poor doesn’t mean you don’t have good ideas. We want to drive real change for millions of people by giving every scientist, technologist and innovator the opportunity to make a difference to the world around them. Often, that requires financial support. 

“The projects supported by the Transform Fund will greatly benefit local communities in our member countries, as well as Muslim communities in non-member countries. We know that science and technology are critical enablers of every Sustainable Development Goal, which is why we are focusing so much of our attention on innovative partnerships built around science and tech-led solutions. Through Engage and the Transform Fund we look to foster collaboration from all around the world to help ensure that everyone has the right to live in dignity and with access to basic human needs.” 

The Islamic Development Bank also announced the establishment of two high-level boards to provide critical advice and guidance to the IsDB and help set the Bank’s STI strategic objectives towards achieving its development mission. 

The IsDB Scientific Advisory Board, comprises ten of the world’s leading scientists and will provide critical advice and guidance in setting the Bank’s Science, Technology and Innovation strategy, and helping review such important applications for funding. They include: Dr. Hayat Sindi, Chief Scientific Advisor to the IsDB; Her Excellency Ms. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, Minister of Higher Education and Training for South Africa; Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia; Prof. Abdallah Daar, Professor of Public Health Sciences and of Surgery, University of Toronto; Prof. Mohamed Hassan, Co-Chair of the InterAcademy Partnership; Dr. Myrna Cunningham, President of the Centre for the Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples (CADPI); Prof. Elfatih Eltahir, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT; Dr. Firdausi Qadri, Director of the Centre for Vaccine Sciences; Prof. Ismail Serageldin, Founding Director Emeritus, Library of Alexandria; and Rahma Bourquia, Director of the National Authority for Evaluation.


Additionally, a new Board of Trustees for the Transform Fund will provide counsel and expertise to ensure the fund is able to achieve its ultimate goal of driving economic and social progress through science, technology and innovation. The Board includes:

  • H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar, President of the Islamic Development Bank Group 
  • Mr. Mehmet Simsek, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
  • Dr Nouria Benghabrit-Remaoun, Minister of National Education, Algeria 
  • Mrs. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International and former Prime Minister of Denmark
  • His Royal Highness Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Emir of Kano, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
  • Dr. Waleed Abdulmohsen Al-Wohaib, Director General, Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development 
  • Mr. Richard Curtis, Creator of Project Everyone, and world-renowned Film writer and Director.
  • Mr. Matthew Freud, Founder and Chairman of global communications firm Freuds.

Innovators and entrepreneurs can apply now for funding from the Transform Fund and find out more information at www.isdb-engage.org