70 Emirati universities participated in the program

Financial grants to 46 university teams in the “Innovation” program of “Expo 2020”

  • Photography: Osama Abu Ghanem.

  • Fatima Ibrahim: “At (Expo Live), we are convinced that innovation can come from everyone, and its positive impact on everyone as well.”

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Fatima Ibrahim, director of global grants for the "Expo Live" program at Expo 2020 Dubai, said that "thousands of university teams from 70 Emirati universities participated in the Innovation Program for Universities, one of the programs that fall under the banner of the (Expo Live) initiative," noting that Forty-six of them won grants of up to 50 thousand dirhams each.

Ibrahim told "Emirates Today" that some of the grant-winning teams moved from the stage of abstract ideas to existing companies operating in the UAE, noting that the University Innovation Program is intended for university students who aim to find solutions to global problems that affect the region.

In detail, Fatima Ibrahim, Director of Global Grants for the Expo Live program at Expo 2020 Dubai, said, "The Innovation Program for Universities is one of the programs that fall under the banner of the (Expo Live) initiative, which aims, with its allocations of $100 million, to accelerate Creative solutions that improve the quality of life in a sustainable way, and supports and promotes these solutions.”

Ibrahim added, "The Innovation Program for Universities is intended for university students who aim to find solutions to global problems that affect the region, as (Expo Live) offers grants and provides opportunities to spread and form social relationships, with the aim of stimulating creative thinking and cooperation among university students to find solutions to problems they face. The Emirates and the region.

She stated that «this trend contributes to accelerating the development of practical innovations and new concepts for adoption and making prototypes of them, in preparation for their commercial application.

Thousands of university teams from 70 Emirati universities participated in the program, of which 46 teams won grants of up to 50 thousand dirhams each.

She indicated that the projects that received the Innovation Program grant for universities are different and fall within several sectors, all of which offer innovative solutions to urgent challenges, which help improve human life and protect the planet.

It makes no difference whether these ideas are small or large in terms of the breadth of impact, as they may provide a solution to a problem suffered by a small community, such as the university for example, or a problem suffered by millions of people in different parts of the region.

She added, "We are happy that some of the award winning teams have moved from the stage of abstract ideas to existing companies operating in the UAE."

Ibrahim explained that regarding the criteria on which the student teams are selected from universities participating in the program are the implementation plan, the budget for implementing solutions, the possibility of implementing innovative solutions on the ground, the feasibility of the proposed solutions or not, and the size of the positive effects on the state.

She pointed out that the "Universities Innovation Program actually focuses on university students in the UAE."

And she continued, "We at (Expo Live), have a firm belief that innovation can come from everyone, and that it has a positive impact on everyone as well.

Therefore, the University Innovation Program aims to stimulate creative thinking, enhance the ability to solve problems, and spread a culture of cooperation among university students.”

She stated, "From this standpoint, we did not want to limit students' creativity by allocating a specific topic, but rather left the field of creativity open to everyone.

As long as the ideas focus on the positive side of impacting societies through an innovative idea, we are more than willing to hear it.”

• 50 thousand dirhams, the value of the grant for each of the winning teams.

A project to match the human genome among Arabs

Fatima Ibrahim, Director of Global Grants for the Expo Live Program at Expo 2020 Dubai, said that one of the projects that won the Innovation Program Grant for Universities from Expo 2020 Dubai is the (Genomach) project, which operates under the umbrella of Khalifa University for Science and Research. And with the support of (Expo 2020 Dubai), to develop a technology to match the human genome in Arabs,” noting that the “Genomach” team includes the Emirati researcher, Halima Al-Naqbi, who leads the project, along with Hassan Al-Attas and under the guidance of the Emirati doctor, Habiba Al-Saffar, A leader in genetic research.

Ibrahim indicated that "Genomach" is a project currently under development and research, through which the team seeks to develop a technique for tissue matching, which is used to examine histocompatibility to determine the patient's ability to receive an organ from a biologically unrelated donor in various organ transplants, especially "bone marrow".

And she continued: “The (Genomics) technology reads the genes of tissue-matching genes at the DNA level in a manner that is four times more accurate than the currently used techniques, which allows the doctor to choose the appropriate donor for the patient, in order to avoid complications resulting from micro-incompatibility in tissues, including rejection of The patient’s body of the transplanted organ is attacked by the immune system.”

She explained: "Currently available technologies use the genetic information of other peoples, including European and Asian peoples, as a reference for them in matching," adding that "since these techniques are not designed to analyze the genetic information of Arabs, they are considered inaccurate for Arab peoples, which may cause Many serious complications that may kill the patient because of the inaccurate tissue match between the recipient and the donor.”

And she indicated that "we can reduce the risk rate by studying the genetic structure of histocompatibility genes (the major compatibility complex or human leukocyte antigens located in chromosome 6) in Arabs, and using it as a reference for (the donor or donor) and the patient instead of the reference currently used."

Ibrahim said: "(Genomach) hopes that this reference will contribute in the future to facilitating and accelerating the matching process in the national registry for organ donors and donor patients."

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