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If You’re Trying to Change the World, Expo 2020 Dubai Can Help


Expo 2020 Dubai is looking for innovators with a global vision. Businesses, non-profits or start-ups that are solving challenges in health, education, employment and other sectors, have a chance to elevate themselves through Expo 2020’s Expo Live programme.


There have been 6,900 applications from 174 countries so far and the Expo Live programme is still looking for more diverse submissions from across the world.


With grants available up to US $100,000, the Expo Live programme will not only fund, social enterprises, start-ups and grassroots projects, but accelerate, promote and support creative, novel solutions that improve lives while preserving our world.


Focus areas for funding are centred around Expo 2020 Dubai’s overall theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ which includes Expo’s three subthemes; Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

The first New Zealand based business that successfully received an Expo Live fund is eye care specialists oDocs. With a mission to end preventable blindness, oDocs founders Dr. Hong Sheng Chiong and Dr. Benjamin O’Keeffe developed smartphone technology to deliver accessible and freely available eye care.


After creating a functional Fundus camera that attaches to a smartphone allowing a doctor to look at the back of a person’s eye, oDocs released the patents online, for free, making it the first open eye source eye equipment in the world.


After applying to the Expo Live programme, Dr. Hong travelled to Dubai in May 2019 and pitched oDocs to the Expo Live programme and won US $100,000 in funding.


The final round of grant applications will start from October 2020.


The eligibility criteria to apply is quite simple. Businesses can be from any sector or country, be either start-ups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, NGOs or government entities but must be legally registered entities. The innovations must also be at the prototype level or beyond and benefit society, the environment or a humanitarian cause.


Applicants can also include university students aiming to create social change or solve global problems.


An important component to keep in mind when applying to the Expo Live programme is to communicate what you stand for, what’s your story is and what inspired you to want to be a global innovator.


To find out more about Expo 2020 and the Expo 2020 Live Program click here.

Watch Dr. Hong’s TED Talk to find out more about oDocs’ incredible journey