Global Grad Show unveils 150 game-changing ideas to change the world
Published 08/11/2021
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3,681 graduates in 464 universities across 70 countries submitted entries, with 150 key projects unveiled today, making the 7th edition of Global Grad Show the largest to date
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Global Grad Show unveils 150 game-changing ideas to change the world

3,681 graduates in 464 universities across 70 countries submitted entries, with 150 key projects unveiled today, making the 7th edition of Global Grad Show the largest to date

An Alexa with a heart; Next-generation disease decoding software; Self-healing construction materials and textiles; An anti-greenwashing browser; Robots that regenerate land and sea ecosystems; Biodegradable cling film made from gin; Steering wheels to monitor health; A wearable device for parents to bond with incubated babies; Smog-filtering cars; A ball that detects signs of life within a 5‐meter radius;

A biodegradable baby mattress made from banana fibres; A diet-controlling smart speaker; and a robot that repairs coral reefs…


·       Today sees the unveiling of the shortlisted 150 ideas that could change the way we live forever, selected from 2,600 entries, a 50% increase in the number of applications received in 2020

·       This year’s Global Grad Show is the largest and most diverse edition to date in reach, depth and university network, with a 70% rise in the number of universities submitting entries since 2020

·       150 promising projects are unveiled today, by 212 students from 114 universities, representing 50 countries

·       From urgent CO2-capturing solutions to forward-looking tax methods, entries break-down global problems

·       Ideas echo collective concerns with mental and physical health, food supply, city living, ethics and community welfare – highlighting academia’s critical role in solving them    

·       Returning institutions, from Harvard to Oxford joined by first-time applicants from six new countries: Bhutan, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Congo and Brunei

·       The interactive exhibition will launch on 8th November

London, 8th November 2021: From Bhutan to Peru, from the US to Uganda; today sees the unveiling of 150 highly innovative academic projects to improve lives, support communities and protect the planet. Part of the largest edition of Global Grad Show to date, the shortlisted entries, selected amongst 2,600 submissions from 70 countries, underline key shared concerns internationally, from infant care to net-zero cities, and illustrate the scale of the efforts – and combined approach – necessary to address them.

Now in its seventh year, Global Grad Show, an initiative by the Art Dubai Group that supports the world’s most promising academic talent in the field of social and environmental impact, reports that it has received 50% more  applications compared to last year, from a network of 464 universities (a 70% increase from 2020). The growth indicates a rising interest among students to solve issues faced by individuals, the society and the environment.

The 150 shortlisted projects are a reflection of what graduates around the world have concentrated on last year, spotlighting some of the world’s major challenges and the most promising ideas to address them. These solutions alternate between theoretical and practical, complex and simple, and hail from the likes of Oxford, Cambridge and Ivy League institutions to colleges in Indonesia, Mexico and Oman. Such diversity evidences how different approaches can contribute towards common goals. Six new countries having submitted innovations for the first time this year: Bhutan, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Congo and Brunei.  

Several themes have emerged in this year’s edition, pointing to the shared concerns of graduates, with this being the first Global Grad Show to take place since the world starts to emerge from the pandemic. These include projects in healthcare and wellbeing (44 entries) and safety and emergency (25 entries), while future-readiness becomes a key common denominator among production and consumption (41 entries), community and inclusion (30 entries) and education and awareness (21 entries).

The ultimate objective for innovating is also broadening. In ‘health’, there is a focus on bypassing traditional healthcare systems, putting greater ownership in the hands of individuals. Ideas include a digital malnutrition monitor, an exoskeleton for stroke rehabilitation and mobile-enabled skin scanner. Within ‘new materials’, projects are looking into an integrative approach between sustainability and progress, including industrial sealants and flame retardants made out of natural components and self-healing textiles and construction materials.      

The 150 featured submissions, which will be showcased in an interactive digital online year-long exhibition launching today include:

·  Recycling ‘ghost finishing nets’ (most abundant marine debris) into public seating. University of Karachi, Pakistan

·  An AI-enabled drug discovery system specialised in cardiovascular disease. University of Cambridge, UK

·  A lower-body exoskeleton rehabilitation system for children with cerebral palsy. Pratt Institute, US

·  An anti-greenwashing browser that blocks content from unsustainable brands. Royal College of Art, UK

·  A tech toy to help children with autism with emotions and communications. San Francisco State University, US

·  A solar-powered robot that lives in the desert to plant seeds. Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, UAE

·  A diet-controlling smart speaker that pairs food with music. Royal College of Art, UK

·  An upper limb prosthetic that allows children to develop muscle memory. National Institute of Design, India

·  An LED steering wheel that monitors a driver’s vital signs and stress levels. Loughborough University, UK

·  A biodegradable baby mattress made from banana fibres. Lausanne School of Art & Deign, Switzerland

·  An electronic tool that enables people with disability to independently draw. University of Brighton, UK

·  An adaptable cushion for pregnancy that allows for longer, comfortable sitting. University of Pennsylvania, US

·  Acoustic-based mood tracking to monitor for mental health. Keio University, Japan

·  3D printed, biodegradable and self-healing footwear. Imperial College London, UK

·  A biodegradable raincoat made from corn husk waste. University of the Arts, London

·  Biodegradable cling film made of gin. Glasgow School of Art & University of Glasgow, UK

·  A photosynthetic skin, which generates energy from light harvesting. Elisava School of Design, Barcelona, Spain

·  A pain free glucose test for diabetics, based on exhaled breath. Zhejiang University, China

·  Emoticons converted into Braille to help those with vision impairment to communicate. Hasselt Uni., Belgium

·  A wireless sensory device to help premature babies bond with their parents; Uni. of Arts and Design Linz, Austria

·  A thermal camera attached for smartphones which scans for fevers. Rizal Technological University, Philippines

·  A ball that can detect signs of life in areas affected by natural disasters areas. Zhejiang University, China

·  An exoskeleton hand for stroke rehabilitation patients. Santos Dumont Institute, Brazil

The initiative, held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, a member of Dubai Council, has received over 7,000 applications from over 600 academic institutions since 2015, when it launched as an exhibition of social impact designs with 10 participating universities.     

Tadeu Baldani Caravieri, Director of Global Grad Show, said: “In the wide spectrum of what innovation means and does, Global Grad Show projects sit at a very distinct position: their primary objective is to create positive net results to the world, either by solving existing problems or preventing new ones. When we look at the volume and quality of these projects across the world, it’s possible to believe in a scenario where their impact outpaces complex global challenges. That alone is a very strong reason to support young entrepreneurial minds working inside universities. There’s probably no group better equipped to build positive change from the ground up.

We are very thankful to the thousands of students and professors who shared their vision with us since 2015. With the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and the the long-term support of partners like Dubai Culture, A.R.M. Holding and Dubai Design District (d3) we had the opportunity to grow the programme, leveraging Dubai’s infrastructure and forward-looking vision. We are extremely excited to be opening our most far-reaching edition ever today. ”

All applying students will have the chance to join Global Grad Show’s entrepreneurship programme this year, a 4-month development route to bring venture-building thinking and opportunities to applicants who want to take their projects forward. Since 2019, it has welcomed over 300 participants – a figure that has tripled for this year’s cohort alone.

Previous participants from the programme are now taking their solutions closer to market launch, including technologies that can lower urban temperatures, diagnose organ failure with AI and reduce plastic pollution at global scale. The expectation is to increase the programme’s output significantly this year, through partnerships and more investment opportunities. A.R.M. Holding for example, the first Global Grad Show partner to pledge funds for startups from the programme (a USD 2.7 million fund over 10 years, launched in 2019) has recently renewed its commitment to support participants to advance their projects. 

The virtual showcase with the 150 projects in this year’s edition is available on  Simultaneously, the MENA Grad Show, a physical exhibition dedicated to social impact innovation by students from universities in the Middle East and North Africa will open today, as part of Dubai Design Week, supported by Dubai Design District (d3).                                    

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Global Grad Show, an initiative by the Art Dubai Group, is a programme for graduates in universities across the world whose research and ideas offer solutions to help solve major social and environmental issues. Launched in 2015 and now in its seventh edition, Global Grad Show brings together academics from over 70 countries and 600 universities, from the world’s most prominent academic institutions to local colleges in developing markets, in fields ranging from biomedical engineering to urban design and data sciences. Each year, participating graduate projects offer audiences the opportunity to enter a universe of academic ingenuity rarely seen outside the campus, through the work of young minds addressing complex issues around the world through their social impact innovations. Global Grad Show celebrates its innovators through a yearly showcase (held physically until 2019 and online since 2020) and year‐round activations supporting graduates and professors on complementing angles: knowledge exchange, entrepreneurship opportunities and international exposure.

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