impossibility to i2mpact
17 February 2014
Saudi Arabia

Register now

Meet the 



Christopher Bobyn / National Geographic Stock

Our mission is to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and social innovation for scientists, technologists and engineers in the Middle East and beyond.

We envision a world in which the only barrier to an innovator's success is the quality of his or her ideas. We want to give every scientist, technologist and engineer the opportunity to discover and fulfill their potential, for themselves and for their societies, making new markets, making new companies, and making a difference in the world around them.

Imagination and Ingenuity

'Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.’ –Dr. Albert Einstein

Without a proper outlet for imagination and without the hope that it will make a difference, possibilities diminish. Imagination is one of the most powerful tools we have. It’s limitless and forward looking. Innovative ideas can’t happen without it. But imagination alone is not enough. Imagination needs ingenuity to realize its full potential. i2 seeks to empower young innovators with both, creating access to new opportunities through inspiration, education and the tools to apply them.

About Dr. Hayat Sindi, Founder and CEO of i2

Dr. Sindi was born in Makkah, Saudi Arabia and is one of the world’s leading biotechnologists, and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Sciences. As a child she was inspired by great scientists who changed the world like Einstein, Marie Curie and Ibn Al-Haitham.

She left Saudi Arabia in her teens and worked against the odds to become the first female from the Gulf to earn a PhD in biotechnology, studying at King’s College London, Cambridge, MIT and Harvard. Dr. Sindi is a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University, and a co-founder of Diagnostics For All, which offers cost-effective point-of-care diagnostic tools enabling the treatment of the 60% of people living beyond the reach of medical infrastructures. She has been a PopTech fellow in both Science and Social Innovation, advancing her longstanding goal to more closely link science and social impact. Dr. Sindi was announced by National Geographic as National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

Her dream is that i2 will make stories like hers less exceptional and more possible for every young innovator.

Follow Dr. Sindi:


Jodi Cobb / National Geographic Stock

Young people are our most important resource. Strong societies depend on them and the future depends on them. While Saudi Arabian youth have abundant access to education, they do not have enough access to the opportunities to apply it. The numbers speak for themselves…

Facts and Figures



of the Arab population are 18 years old or younger (1)


invested by Saudi Arabia in education or training in 2011 (2)


But still…


43% of 20–24 year olds are unemployed in Saudi Arabia (3)


70% of the country’s young people want to emigrate (4)


And so…


The Middle East’s measurement on the Entrepreneurial Intent Index (5)


The Middle East’s measurement on the Risk Aversion Index (6)



1–3. (17 February 2011)
4. (10 November 2011)
5. INSEAD Global Innovation Index (2011)
6. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (2011)

Obstacles to Entrepreneurship

The Middle East has to overcome huge barriers to entrepreneurship. The Entrepreneurial Intent index measures the percentage of the population that actively pursues information for venture creation. The following are distinctly identified reasons for the lack of entrepreneurial endeavor in the region:

1. A lack of formal business skills among scientists and engineers
2. A culturally intrinsic fear of failure
3. A nascent Private Equity and Venture Capital environment (a lack of potential investors willing to provide the necessary capital)
4. Lastly, the fact that investors in the region do not focus on science-based ventures.

Acknowledging each of these issues as pressing obstacles, means addressing them collectively to ensure a more open and opportune path for entrepreneurs. i2 is trying to connect the dots by putting the right resources against the right issues so that every young innovator has the opportunity to live their potential and contribute to their society.

Learn about our program for innovation…

It will bridge the gap between aspiring entrepreneurs and investors by rigorously selecting applicants with viable and patented ideas, and putting them through our intensive, educational and skill-building program designed to directly address these issues and barriers to success.

Jodi Cobb / National Geographic Stock

On November 16, the i2 Institute launched the i2 Fellowship Program, dedicated to developing and supporting young scientists/engineers/future entrepreneurs in the Middle East through a holistic ecosystem of resources, programming and mentorship.

View the application or
explore the Fellowship below

About the i2 Fellowship

To identify, inspire and elevate fresh talent in the fields of science, technology and engineering.

The i2 fellowship will be dedicated to those graduate and post-graduate students who have a visionary and bold patent idea related to one of the following fields of:

energy • health • water • environment

For 8 months, i2 Fellows will be part of a group that will work to develop their business ideas in a well-connected ecosystem, able to create the best conditions to foster innovation, economic and social change.

i2 Fellowship Development Process

The Fellowship will involve these 3 dimensions:

1. development of their business idea ...because learning a new path from science to market is crucial to move from a scientific laboratory to a boardroom.

2. development of their approach to entrepreneurship ...because a new breed of entrepreneurs will create a new kind of value for society.

3. development of their leadership skills ...because we believe a new kind of leadership will generate a new kind of organization and more innovation.

During an accelerated learning process, the twelve Fellows will be exposed to the most advanced theories and practices in the domains of entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership and will experience both an innovative ‘social science program” and a brand new “communication program”, both of which were developed in partnership with world class organizations.

Each Fellow will be assigned a Regional Mentor and a Global Mentor, selected between a number of deeply experienced and highly dedicated leaders.

For six weeks, fellows will be hosted inside the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-Lab), working with fellow entrepreneurs, supported by several Harvard Business School faculty members, including several Nobel prize winners, world-class authors, experts and practitioners.

Part of the i2 Fellowship Program will also take place at the MIT Media Lab: each fellow will be able to visit and explore some of the Media Lab experiments and collaborate with faculty members and research assistants, or even become engaged in research.

Although Fellows will be working individually, they will be supported by their mentors and by their newly created networks — just as things happen in real life, for successful entrepreneurs and innovators. They will work together with other entrepreneurs in the Middle East and in the United States.

They will experiment, co-design, prototype, test and create their own enterprise.

The whole Fellowship program is dedicated to helping the fellows prepare for their “New Venture Proposal”.

The Business Venture Conference

To provide project financing for fellows’ work.

After their 8 developmental months of training, matched mentorship, research, exploration, refinement, and ongoing exposure to innovators, entrepreneurs and investors through our “connect sessions” our 12 innovators will pitch their innovations at this conference to.

A participation of roughly 100 investors.

Additionally, the conference is our opportunity to celebrate the involvement of all of our constituents, celebrate the evolution of our innovators, and recognize the influence of our intellectual support network. It will feature high-profile speakers on topics of evolving and timely relevance and serve as a meeting point for board members, donors, contributors, and other i2 stakeholders.

Beyond the Program

Ongoing after-care ensures support of Fellows in their initial stages post pitch and selection. We want to ensure that investor connection is successful, and help cultivate the beginning stages of our innovators’ new ventures. Our fellows will forge lasting relationships with their mentors… and become more independent, but never disconnected. I2 fellows remain i2 fellows.

Peer community …to facilitate social and networking events that bring young people together in new and supportive ways.

Annual conferences bring together an international community of innovators, highlighting young talent, new ideas and amazing inventions.

Mentor network connect young innovators, participants and graduates of our Fellowship Program, with world class mentors in key infrastructural roles to help get great ideas off the ground. Mentors will give their time, expertise and advice.

Learn about ways to be involved in the i2 ecosystem and community.

Herve Fucho / National Geographic Stock

The i2 Institute was announced at the PopTech conference in Camden, Maine in October 2011 and officially opened its fellowship applications at its inaugural event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on November 16, 2012. There are lots of ways to get involved with i2. From joining the conversation, to supporting our mission, to investing in our vision, a diverse involvement of individuals and practictioners is vital to the institute’s ecosytem.

Our Stakeholders


i2 inspires and educates, and connects our entrepreneurs to investors in a fast-track approach.

Learn about the i2 Fellowship



i2 empowers donors as catalysts in promoting the Middle East as a source for new ideas through empowering young innovators.



i2 offers the opportunity to engage and involve your unique, committed talents and perspective to a mission inspired by creating tangible, long term impact.


Intellectual Support Network

i2 offers world-class practitioners and leaders the shared ownership of scientific advancement for the region through influence on the newest, most promising talent.



i2 provides exclusive access to the most innovative, sound investment opportunities in the Middle East and connects you with like-minded investors.


General Public

i2 will inspire new entrepreneurs… to create new industry and social impact for our region through innovation.


To find out how you might involve your own talents,
please reach out to


Our Board

 Zafer Achi

Managing Director, McKinsey & Company, Middle East Office


 Herman de Bode

Managing Director, McKinsey & Company, Riyadh Office



Faisal Al Faisal

Executive Director, Exsab Communications



Ernesto Occhiello

Executive Vice-President, Technology and Innovation, SABIC


Catherine Rodgers

Vice President
Global Opportunities, IBM

Mihnea Moldoveanu 

Associate Dean, Full Time MBA Program Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Marcel Desautels Professor of Integrative Thinking, University of Toronto, Director, Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking


Fahad Abu Al-Nasr

Executive Director, Al-Aghar Group


Dr Haifa Jamal AlLail

President, Effat University


Andrew Zolli

Executive Director and Curator, PopTech

Hayat Sindi 

Founder and CEO, i2 Institute, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Sciences





Media Inquiries

If you’d like to learn more about i2’s evolving story or talk to a member of our team, please contact us at and download our press book here: i2_press_book.pdf

One International Place
100 Oliver Street, Suite 1400
Boston, MA 02110

f: +1 617-535-7555
t: +1 617 535 7600

Level 26 King's Road Tower
King's Road
P.O.Box 40469 Jeddah 21499
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

f: +966122834060
t: +96612293327 / +96612293328

Partner and Contributors


i2 Partner

Our thanks and appreciation to our partner, Succoon

i2 Contributors

Our thanks and appreciation to our contributors, McKinsey & Company, PopTech, National Geographic, Nifty Fifty Science & Engineering Festival and Wolff Olins

Join the Conversation

We want to start a conversation with you about the future—your personal future and our collective future. We can’t personally reply to every message, but we can give you a platform to share and discuss your ideas. We will post our questions and your answers on the site and hope to evolve the conversation over time. We promise to listen. 

What is your dream for your own future and for your country?

What could help you to make these dreams real?

for the
i2 fellowship

We look forward to the innovative surprises our young talent has to offer and engage us with. Below you’ll find the application outline to the i2 Fellowship Program, including the specifications for who may apply, and the requirements of the application. View the requirements below or download our application outline with additional information about the fellowship program itself.

–the i2 Institute team


Applications for the i2 Fellowship
must be emailed to:
Applications must be received by
end of April 2014


You may apply to the program if one or more of the following requirements is fulfilled

1. You are a young graduate
2. You have developed your practice around the world of science and technology
3. You have an idea that could potentially become a national or international patented idea in one of the i2 Institute fields of Energy, Health, Water or Environment

The application consists of three parts

1. Your one-page résumé
2. Your one-page motivation letter, written around three themes

My personal dream/wish/ambition/idea when I think about
the marriage of “science-technology and entrepreneurship”

My ambition about my personal contribution to society ...through 
my personal development, my imagination and ingenuity at work.

My personal path to the future ….what sort of problem I wish to
solve through the creation of an enterprise?

3. The detailed description of your patented idea

One application is allowed per participant.


The evaluation committee is headed by Dr. Hayat Sindi.

Before sending your application for the i2 Fellowship Program, review once more these criteria:

• You are a graduate/post graduate science student
(or you should be finishing your studies by the end of 2014)
• You are between 20 and 35 years old
• You are fluent in English
• Your studies/work are related to the field of science and technology

The names of the first cohort of i2 Fellows will be announced in mid March.


Download the
application outline