One of Dubai Design Week’s key highlights and a year-round social impact innovation programme for graduate students across the world Global Grad Show, launched an open call in March for university professors and students around the world to look for solutions to COVID-19 collateral issues with April 2 being the last day of submission.

390 entries by undergraduates, graduates and professors from 125 universities in 40 countries were received following the application phase, which was then evaluated by a jury including experts in innovation, technology and new ventures, whose input will inform the next assessment phase.

Students and professors from Institutions belonging to the global top-10 rank, such as MIT, Harvard University, University of Oxford, Imperial College London and the National University of Singapore applied, alongside institutions in the UAE and in emerging markets such as Peru, Uganda, Egypt, Turkey, Lithuania and Malaysia.

For the next phase, Global Grad Show will engage with the students and professors behind these applications to analyse their development requirements, with a view to identifying proposals that can be supported towards testing and implementation.

Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority commented on the initiative, saying “It is extremely encouraging to see, in critical times such as this, that one of Dubai’s own homegrown initiatives calls on to the world to come together and find solutions for current and future problems posed by the spread of COVID-19. Global Grad Show has been one of the first to put forward such a proactive initiative, receiving a multitude of incredible proposals by young, brilliant minds from around the world. This initiative and the rapid response it received shows the importance and impact of human creativity and humanity selflessly coming together to provide collective solutions to combat obstacles, no matter how large. Dubai Culture, together with its partners, will continue to support and nurture this important initiative, and to do what we can to see our community thrive through this current crisis.”

The proposals engaged disciplines varying from medical engineering to game design and focused on problems with different degrees of urgency, and on solutions with varying implementation complexity and horizon: from critical medical PPE currently out of stock around the world to public policies to prepare communities for future disease outbreaks.Some examples of the proposals received are as follows:

- ClAir Tram - clean and healthy public transport. Public transportation is often associated with discomfort, bad air and potential health hazards. Nevertheless, they are vital to urban infrastructure and need to be relied on. ClAir Tram proposes placing air quality and hygiene at the heart of public transport, with trams equipped with large scale air purifiers and interiors designed with antimicrobial materials. By Erik Mantz-Hansen, Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts - Germany.

- Fridays for Innovation - A digital gathering of problem-solvers. Within three weeks of pandemic in Europe, more than 80,000 designers, engineers, and scientists participated in online hackathons to build thousands of solutions for the pandemic. Unfortunately, most of these solutions go to waste, due to lack of support and coordination, a problem called "design waste". Fridays for Innovation is a collective intelligence movement, where creatives gather to build, share and remix solutions for challenges, supported by an intelligent digital platform and highly interconnected clustering database. By Johannes Mutter and Yejeong Ko, Royal College of Art - UK.

- Social Place – using Dubai’s public areas for mental health. Social distancing policies have irrevocably changed the way people use (and will use) public spaces within a city. Project Social Space focuses on repurposing public areas across Dubai to balance the need for outdoor activities in times of social distancing. The purpose is to create public areas for activities that improve physical and mental health, that abide by the rules of safe social interaction. By Alida Bata, Heriot Watt University - Dubai.

- Fresh Tracker - optimising the use of food supplies. How to help people organize the storage of fresh and pantry items in a convenient and hygienic way? Assisting people to have a more efficient and hygienic way to organise their food stock, project Fresh Tracker offers a set of smart stickers that link to an app, tracking information such as volume, expiration and purchase date of food items. By Sheng-Hung Lee and Ziyuan Zhu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - USA

- Qenqo, a hygiene hub for vulnerable communities. Poor communities are inherently vulnerable to disease outbreaks and certainly more exposed to COVID-19 due to the lack of information, limited hygiene supplies and living conditions in high-density households. Qengo is a neighbourhood hub for hygiene and clean water, produced with low-cost and easily sourced hardware material, providing the minimum means for proper hand sanitation and potable water consumption in all types of human settlements. By Social Chain team, Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.