In Jeddah: Imagination and Ingenuity

A few of us are delighted to be in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this weekend for the launch of Dr. Hayat Sindi’s i2 Institute for Imagination and Ingenuity

Hayat is well-known here as the first woman from the Gulf to earn a PhD in biotechnology. She left home, alone, and went the UK, got into Cambridge, then MIT and then Harvard to do her post-doc work. There, she co-founded Diagnostics For All, which offers ultra-low-cost point-of-care diagnostic tools for people living beyond the reach of medical infrastructures. 

Our work with Hayat began in 2011, when she came to us with the ambition to translate her passion for science and social innovation into a solution for unemployment in her home region, the Middle East. The ambition that eventually became i2. 

Despite substantial government investment in education and training, roughly half of 20–24 year olds in Saudi Arabia are still unemployed—the region needs a solution that’s both sustainable and scalable. Hayat’s dream is that beginning today, with the opening of applications to i2, stories like hers will become less exceptional and more possible for every young innovator. 

With years of hard work and a fierce determination to connect innovative practitioners, educators and creatives from around the world, Hayat will launch the Institute and its Fellowship Program tonight.

The Fellowship develops and supports young scientists/engineers/future entrepreneurs in the Middle East through a holistic ecosystem of resources, programming and mentorship. Selected fellows spend 8 months working as a group to develop their individual business ideas. Access to a well-connected ecosystem creates the conditions for innovation and economic and social change. Later in the process, a business venture conference is held to introduce those young innovators to investors. 

For us, it was never an option not to work with Hayat because of the consequences of not getting involved with such a great idea. It’s a critical moment for the Middle East and i2 will bring young people the chance to have the right platform, to know what to do and how to connect to the right people, in order to make their dreams reality. Good luck today, Hayat!

Applications are now up on the i2 website and we’ll be posting live updates throughout the weekend from the launch event

(Rachel Blatt)

Hayat Sindi: inspiring change in Mideast through i2 insitute launch

Scientist, inventor, Harvard and Cambridge graduate, Saudi Arabian native and pioneer—Dr. Hayat Sindi is an inspiring woman, a powerful force in the advancement of science, social good and a sign towards the emerging cultural shift in the role of women in a conservative region.

Today at PopTech, Sindi launched her latest project, the Institute for Imagination and Ingenuity, (i2 institute) which focuses on encouraging entrepreneurship in the Arab community amidst an unemployment rate of over 40% and a rapidly growing youth population entering the workforce. The website states "Our mission is to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and social innovation for scientists, technologists and engineers in the Middle East and beyond." Wolff Olins and PopTech collaborated with Sindi to develop the brand and identity around her platform.

“I believe that we can put science and society hand in hand and we should customize science for the benefit of the developing world. Small people can achieve big dreams.” Sindi stated. She also hopes that “i2 will make stories like hers less exceptional and more possible for every young innovator.”

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