WED Innovation Lab successfully concludes with prototypes to tackle challenges faced by young children across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 28 January, 2024: Held Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Head of the Office of Development Affairs and Martyrs’ Families at the Presidential Court and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), the WED Innovation Lab has wrapped up its five-day event held at Yas Acres Golf and Country Club on the capital’s iconic Yas Island. Hosted by ECA Members and under the Chair of H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, the Innovative Lab brought together experts from local, regional, and international domains to participate in an immersive experience focused on collaboratively developing early childhood advances. Over the course of the event, attendees explored activities aimed at fostering creativity and generating innovative outputs, with the setting providing an inspiring backdrop for the exchange of ideas and the cultivation of forward-thinking prototypes.

Speaking on the last day of the event, Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy explained how important it is to ensure that the prototypes created have a genuine impact on the issues, saying, “WED Movement has attracted high-profile advisers from all over the world to the Innovation Lab to meet in person, get to know each other, and work through the serious challenges related to the three themes of the WED; Intentional Parenting, Culture and Identity and Sustainable and Family-friendly Cities, reflecting our commitment to ensure a sustainable, healthy and supportive environment for our children that enable them to develop their abilities, skills and growth.. Our children are the leaders of the future.”

Her Excellency Reem added: “The outputs of the WED Innovation Lab mark just the beginning of our journey within the WED Initiative. The pioneering prototypes crafted by our experts serve as the cornerstone for cultivating a distinct and innovative approach to early childhood development in Abu Dhabi, the UAE, and beyond.”

Her Excellency Sana Mohammad Suhail, Director-General of the ECA, spoke about how important it was to bring the experts to Abu Dhabi in order to incorporate the broadest mix of professional inputs to the Innovation Lab’s process, saying, “Attracting local and international experts from governmental, private entities, as well as third-sector organizations, empowers us to forge the most comprehensive and sustainable solutions. This collaborative approach is dedicated to building bridges between all parties, with the overarching goal of enhancing the quality and well-being of our children’s lives during their early childhood years.”

Attracting global philanthropic organizations, government, NGOs, stakeholders and the private sector, along with respected innovators in the field, enables us to develop the best possible solutions that can have a positive impact on the lives of young children, wherever they are. We have created an immersive environment that facilitates dialogue, encourages collaboration, and elicits group engagement in ideation, including sensing exercises, user interviews, panel discussions and daily thought leader talks. The collective enthusiasm we have seen this week, and the outstanding prototypes we have selected for further testing in real world situations, will prepare us well for the WED Forum in October.”

The first day of the WED Innovation Lab was dedicated to establishing a foundation for the participants, enabling them to carry out a deep dive into understanding the core aspirations of the WED Movement, fostering connections and learning about each other’s unique purposes and passions. The exploration expanded to encompass the three central themes of Intentional Parenting, Culture and Identity, and Sustainable and Family-Friendly Cities. This structured approach aimed to create a conducive environment for fruitful discussions and the generation of impactful ideas that help identify the challenges for which solutions are sought.

Day 2 was for the WED Innovation Lab participants to continue their exploration of the three themes by going on immersive fact-finding field visits to schools (Maamoura British School, Al Rayana Charter School), a children’s health centre (Al Mushrif Children Specialty Centre), a park (Umm Al Emarat), Sheikh Zayed Festival. These visits allowed them This allowed them to understand the tradition, values, and social and cultural behaviors of Emirati society and the different civilizations living in Emirates and their effects on ecosystem of the early childhood development and its end-user needs, selecting the experiences on which they wanted to focus, and composing the initial versions of their creative questions that would guide the process of ideation.

The third day was set aside for the WED Innovation Lab participants to create an inspiration gallery to aid in refining their creative questions in alignment with feedback from ECA teams and facilitators, ideate disruptive and innovative solutions, and to converge on their best ideas using back-casting techniques to identify policies and programmes that connect the process. They were also given the opportunity to engage with multiple stakeholders through interviews with experts, parents, partners, and representatives from ECA.

On the fourth day, participants used reframing to refine their outputs and begin planning for the best ideas . They then worked on prototyping by building a storyboard and testing these outputs with users and partners, based on the feedback they received.

The fifth day saw the final ideation prototype pitches presented to a high-profile judging panel led by WED Chair, Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, and including H.E. Sana Suhail,​ Director-General of​ ECA, Badr Al Olama, Acting Director-General of Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), Rabih Abouchakra, Executive Director, Office of Developmental Affairs at the Presidential Court, and Shaista Asif, Co-founder and CEO of PureHealth, who provided feedback to all experts in order to prioritize the most viable outputs for further dealing during February and March to shortlist the prototypes that will go into piloting and implementation ahead of the WED Forum in October, 2024.

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