New institute offers fellowships for innovators
Jeddah, November 18, 2012
The Jeddah-based Institute for Imagination and Ingenuity (i2 Institute) has invited Arab innovators to submit applications for a fellowship program that will provide them with rich mentoring and matchmaking opportunities with potential investors in the region and beyond.
The announcement was made during a ceremony marking the launch of i2 Institute by Dr. Hayat Sindi, CEO and founder of the institute.
The event was held at Jeddah Hilton in the presence of Prince Khaled Al Faisal Al Saud, Governor of Makkah, as well as high-profile regional and international industry leaders.
The launch ceremony highlighted i2 Institute’s status as a non-profit organisation that aims to develop a comprehensive ecosystem of entrepreneurship and social innovation for scientists, technologists and engineers in and around the Middle East.
i2 Institute is the brainchild of Dr Sindi, who is regarded as the first woman from the Gulf region to earn a doctorate in biotechnology. She has been named as the Unesco Goodwill Ambassador for Sciences in 2012.
In her welcome speech at the launch event, Dr. Sindi said: “I hope to make my success story less exceptional and provide better resources for young innovators. The i2 Institute will adopt a fast-track and well defined approach to inspire, educate and connect entrepreneurs.”
Dr Hayat pointed out that while the Middle East was once recognized for its leadership in sciences, today it is no longer at the forefront of innovation. She added: “According to recent studies, the commercialisation and entrepreneurial intent in the region is estimated at 2.4 per cent, which represents one of the lowest percentages globally. The key issues that have been identified include innovators’ lack of business skills and fear of failure, which translate into a high level of aversion to risk (51 per cent) and a limited level of interest by regional investors in science-based ventures.”
In its first edition, the fellowship program will accept submissions until February 2013. It will involve a preliminary evaluation process to select 50 top applicants with viable and patented ideas. The shortlisted entrepreneurs will then participate in a competitive workshop that will culminate with the selection of 12 outstanding fellows. Subsequently, the 12 Fellows will undergo an intensive eight-month educational and skill-building program, which will expose them to the most advanced theories and practices in the domains of entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership.
The first part of this program will extend through six weeks at the Harvard Innovation Lab. During this period, the Fellows will work collectively to understand the intricate dynamics of an entrepreneurial landscape. Their learning will be supported by Harvard Business School faculty members, including Nobel Prize winners, world-class authors, experts and practitioners.
In the second part of the Fellowship Program, which will take place at the MIT Media Lab, each Fellow will gain an opportunity to visit and explore some of the experiments conducted at the laboratory. They will also collaborate with MIT faculty members and research assistants, or even become engaged in research should they meet the Faculty’s criteria of participation.
At the conclusion of the Fellowship Program, the 12 Fellows would have prepared their respective business venture proposals that they will pitch at the Business Venture Conference, the i2 Institute’s second flagship product. The conference will be held on an annual basis, bringing together about 100 investors. It will serve as an ideal matchmaking platform that will provide rich exposure to the Fellows’ business propositions.
Reiterating the benefits of the intensive program, Dr Sindi added: “The two products – Fellowship Program and the Business Venture Conference – will help the selected and most deserving participants to forge strong relationships with their mentors and remain integral to the institute’s fellowship community. Our intent is not merely to offer learning experiences but has more to do with driving tangible results. In this context, I urge potential donors, contributors and investors to join hands with the i2 Institute and help us achieve our ambitious hopes for Arab innovators and aspiring entrepreneur through contributing to the innovation potential of the region.”
The i2 Institute comprises a board of directors of well-established local and international experts across various disciplines, who will actively oversee the program as part of their mandate to contribute to the organisation’s vision. They are integral to the strong support network to the Fellows the institute will seek to foster and nurture in view of ensuring the success of this initiative. – TradeArabia News Service
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