The organizers of Dubai Expo 2020 have found a novel way to make their event live well in advance of the actual, six-month world’s fair that will take place October 20, 2020 – April 10, 2021, with the “Expo Live” program that is actively running now. Expo Live aims to stimulate innovation that has social benefits by supporting projects with funding, business guidance and promotion related to the Expo theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.”
by James Ogul, IPM World’s Fair Editor
The program’s stated objective: “Make Expo 2020 Dubai an engine of global innovation that both inspires and acts as a catalyst for creative and scalable solutions.” Expo Live has an international scope, and grants up to $100,000 per project made available incrementally depending on progress and results. Because it takes place over the three-year run up to opening day, it virtually extends the expo far beyond the traditional 6-month span. An added benefit is that it generates positive publicity to audiences far and wide, which should contribute to bringing in the overseas visitors that are critical to achieving the Expo’s attendance goals. Dubai 2020 has a unique attendance model that depends on 70% of the projected visitation of 25 million coming from abroad.
“Now is the time to pull out those ideas to fix the world that you have imagined but never known how to implement,” reads an official Dubai 2020 statement on Expo Live.
The Expo has set aside $100 million for the Expo Live program and inaugurated it with Innovation Impact Grants, that attracted more than 1,100 applicants from 107 countries. So far, grants have been awarded to applicants in Brazil, Slovenia, Belarus, Rwanda, Egypt, the UAE, the Netherlands, Ireland, Nepal, Nigeria, Venezuela, the U.S., Kenya, Italy, Grenada, Columbia, Chile, Canada, Bangladesh, the UK, South Africa and Sweden. Grants range from development of an affordable computer system for the visually impaired In Brazil, to a cheaper and cleaner electrical system in Belarus, to a doctor call-in service in Rwanda, to a low-cost reforestation system for Zambia, Cameroon, Peru and Chile.
A second phase of the program funds 16 additional global innovators from 14 countries, based on proposals to an evaluation committee in Dubai. The recipients – from five continents – operate in healthcare, education, renewable energy, waste management and sustainability, and join Expo Live’s community of other Global Innovators who have already received support from the program. With these new members from the second cycle, the community now comprises some 45 Expo Live Global Innovators from 30 countries.
The third phase of the program is now open and will receive creative and innovative solutions to real-life challenges through December 2, 2017.
Expo Live projects will also be reflected in the pavilions at the Expo proper in 2020, with displayed in the corresponding international exhibits, resulting in additional exposure to Expo visitors. In my decades of experience with world’s fairs, a program such as Expo Live is unique. The Expo Live program is something new and appropriate in the 166-year history of world’s fairs, and it expands and enhances the impact of the Expo and its goals. I hope future Expo organizers take note and consider similar programs in connection with their own events.