Islamic Development Bank launches digital hub and fund to support development

29th Mar 2018
Islamic Development Bank launches digital hub and fund to support development

President of Islamic Development Bank, Dr Bandar Hajjar, Dr Hayat Sindi, Chief Scientific Advisor of the Bank at the launch of Engage (Photo: Ahmed J Versi/Muslim News)

 

Ahmed J Versi

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, launched on February 20 in central London, a digital hub and a multimillion-dollar fund to accelerate innovative ideas to help meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Engage hub invites innovators to meet, share ideas and challenge each other, with the Transform Fund providing seed money for the best ideas.

The Engage, President of IsDB, Dr Bandar Hajjar, told The Muslim News, “is a platform that will promote technology and scientific solutions to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Through Engage, the Bank will encourage new partnerships between innovators, entrepreneurs, governments, academics and NGOs to put the necessary infrastructure in place for people in developing countries to fulfil their potential, just like, said Dr Hajjar, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia who lacked natural and financial resources but had a vision to recognise the role of innovation as a driver for change.

“Science and technology are critical enablers of every Sustainable Development Goal, which is why innovative partnerships built around science and tech-led solutions are essential. Engage is a place to meet, interact with and challenge other people to develop such innovative solutions.”

Dr Hajjar acknowledged that transfer of technology “is not easy. Industrial countries will not transfer technology.” He wants the member countries to “create a culture of science and technology” as “science and technology is not installing of machines and devises.”

Engage will focus on accelerating progress towards achieving greater food security, healthier lives, including equitable education, sustainable management of water and sanitation, access to affordable and clean energy, and sustainable industrialisation across the developing world, Dr Hayat Sindi, Chief Scientific Advisor of the IsDB, told The Muslim News.

The platform offers three main services: matchmaking, technology and calls for innovation.

The Transform Fund has a target capital of $500m. Dr Sindi said the IsDB is allocating $100m and the rest will come from other investors.
Innovators, start-ups and SMEs with best ideas will get the funds for the respective projects.

The IsDB signed two MoUs, one with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

UNESCAP will not be financing the project but will help with their global network of scientists, technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs and investors. Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Under Secretary General of the UN and Executive Secretary of UNESCAP, told The Muslim News that there were issues of transfer of technology in terms of intellectual property rights. “We should be looking at local solutions. If you are able to transform the lives of the people we don’t necessarily need those expensive bigger technologies to change the landscape.”

The second to sign MoU was the Shell Foundation which has a commitment to share market and investment opportunities to support social enterprises that are providing energy access and affordable transport for people in low-income areas.

The IsDB is a non-political multilateral development bank, representing 57 countries across 4 continents. They fund infrastructure, health and education programmes, reaching 1 in 5 of the world’s population.

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