Ismaili youth and young professionals have come together for the IDE8 open innovation challenge to find solutions to the world's most significant challenges. Through this process, they will learn skills that will help them prepare for a dynamic future, as well as assist those around them in need of support.

Over the past six months, people all over the world have had to drastically change the way they live, study, and work. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted lives everywhere, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or background. In order to adapt to and live in this rapidly changing world, we must also change the way we think; this is the notion on which IDE8 is grounded. 

Mawlana Hazar Imam, in his recent guidance, has encouraged us to look to the future and be cautious for it, he said: "We must remain strong and prepare to build, and to build well when this crisis passes." He went on to say, "The world is facing a challenging time, and in these moments, it is important that the Jamat remains united and focused on helping those who will need assistance and handholding."

In accordance with the guidance of building well for the post-Covid era, the Aga Khan Education Board (AKEB) in the United Arab Emirates has launched its first-ever open innovation challenge entitled IDE8. This challenge, which began in late June, is open to Ismaili youth between the ages of 8 and 30 years; it will take them through the process of evaluating the adversities presented by the current state of our world and seeing these challenges as opportunities to build well for the future. 

The participants, or 'Gamechangers', will design a solution pertaining to one of the themes of the competition. The themes focus on sectors that have experienced challenges in these times, including healthcare, policymaking, economic development, and education.

With the inspiration that they gain from programme faculty, a group of carefully selected leading experts from various industries, through webinars and toolkits, the Gamechangers will embark upon a journey from understanding the challenges and brainstorming ideas to engaging in the process of design thinking. Finally, in early August, the Gamechangers will add the finishing touches to their designs and present them to a panel of judges. 

Hussain Lalani, Chairman of AKEB UAE, said that the aim of the programme is "To see youth come together to build a better and brighter future, the kind of tomorrow we will be calling the new normal." The initiative intends to inspire the youth of the community to ideate unique, impact-driven, disruptive solutions to the problems that the world is facing today. 

IDE8 project leads Shazia Merchant and Kiran Amin Mohammad said that "IDE8 brings about a ray of light and personifies hope. The programme will aim to reiterate our fundamental values of empathy, problem-solving, and service to others, through design thinking and innovation."

The skills they gain through this programme will empower participants not only to design novel solutions for the progress of their communities but also to navigate various challenges of future instability they may face as individuals. These skills, which are grounded in our ethics, will help them remain resilient in volatile times and move forward with confidence in their purpose. 

This programme will also take participants through a journey of individual growth, through which they will first be inspired, then bring their ideas to life through design, and finally, through this process, empower themselves and their communities to build well for a better future.