The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) one of the world’s largest multilateral development banks - has launched Engage, a new digital platform which will promote technological and scientific solutions to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
President of IDB, Dr Bandar Hajjar, announced the launch of Engage at an event hosted at Bloomberg’s European Headquarters in London, alongside United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary - General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Dr Hayat Sindi, chief scientific advisor to IDB, and a group of business, innovation and development experts.
Speaking at the event, Hajjar said, “There is a growing consensus around the need to innovate and collaborate across all sectors to help build capacity within countries to address their own development needs. Engage will provide the right tools and a supportive environment, so innovators and businesses can harness the great potential of science, technology and innovation as strategic drivers for economic growth among their local communities.”
The platform will focus on six SDGs, specifically working towards achieving greater food security, healthier lives, inclusive and equitable education, sustainable management of water, access to affordable and clean energy, and sustainable industrialisation across the developing world, ultimately helping to improve the lives of millions of people, said a press release received in Dhaka on Wednesday.
To ensure its members have access to financing for innovation, IDB has established a new Fund – The Transform Fund – which will finance innovative ideas linked to development solutions. It will provide seed money for innovators, start-ups and SMEs, as well as funding partnerships between researchers and entrepreneurs that will tackle development challenges in line with the SDGs.
The event saw the signing of a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between IDB and ESCAP, who committed to work together to build a global network of scientists, technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs and investors and to nurture and scale up high potential innovations to achieve sustainable and inclusive development.
Akhtar said, “Engage and the Transform Fund will power the policy shifts needed for science, technology and innovation to have a positive impact, not just on our economy, but on our society and the environment. These initiatives will also spur a new era of open and collaborative innovation to ensure no country is left behind in the technological revolution.”
“The partnership agreement between IDB and ESCAP will bring together the skills and sources of capital needed to support innovation solutions for sustainable development,” she added.
According to Dr Sindi, “Engage offers three main services: match-making, technology transfer and calls for innovation. Through Engage, innovators, SMEs, private sector companies, governments and NGOs will benefit from tailored mentoring services and expert knowledge-sharing that will help activate their ideas and proposals to an internationally recognised standard.”
Dr Bandar added, “We are grateful to our partner ESCAP for their support and look forward to collaborating with many more companies, entrepreneurs, investors, governments, academics and NGOs as we focus on the importance of investing in science, technology and innovation.”