Global Grand Challenges Summit: Satellite Events

To ensure that the Global Grand Challenges Summit was a truly global event, the Royal Academy of Engineering held an open call to fund six international institutions to host a Satellite event which directly linked to the Summit in London, funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The aim of the Satellite events was to engage a wider audience with the globally relevant themes and discussion of the Summit beyond the Global Grand Challenges Summit’s immediate partners within the UK, USA and China.

The structure and design of the satellite events was flexible, providing the applicants an opportunity to design and curate an event based on the applicant’s capacity to bring together and engage the local and regional engineering and student community.

The events were to engage some or all of the following communities: young engineers, entrepreneurs, industry and academics within a local and regional community. The events were to bring people together, ideally across generations, to engage with the themes of the Summit, and create or strengthen a regional network of engineers and stakeholders to benefit their local economies, communities and tackle local challenges in an unpredictable world.

The satellite events, whilst flexible in structure, were centred around the themes and sub-themes of the Global Grand Challenges Summit listed here.

Following a competitive application process, the six Global Grand Challenges Summit Satellite Events selected were:


1. Parul University, India

Event: Challenges and Means for Educational Institutions and Engineering Professions for achieving a Sustainable and Healthy India

Synopsis: The event brought together stakeholders to discuss access to healthcare in combatting non-communicable diseases, access to clean water and clean and affordable energy.

GGCS India 2019


This event took place from 16-18 September 2019 with 906 people in attendance of which 855 were students. The main question explored was the issue of whether we can sustain 10 billion people, with a closer examination of inclusive and equitable education. Among the participants the following countries were represented: India, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Belgium. It was noted that the event brought awareness of the Global Grand Challenges to a younger generation and opened the discussion on the possible solutions that could be implemented for specific challenges. As a result of the event, faculty members at Parul University have undertaken a research project on wastewater management, they are committing to avoiding single use plastic in an effort to be more sustainable.


2. Moi University, Kenya

Event: Engineering Challenges in The Dynamic Kenyan Landscape

Synopsis: The event aimed to live stream the London event in Kenya to stimulate debate and discussions, and provide Kenyans with a platform to share challenges in an unpredictable world.

GGCS Kenya 2019


The Kenya event took place from 17-18 September 2019 with a total of 68 people attending of which 36 were students and 15 were women. Both Kenya and Italy were represented as the organiser explored the impact of AI and other transformational technologies, specifically in the context creating sustainable livelihoods, cities and communities; production and consumption of materials and resources; as well as clean air, water and sanitation. Participants were able to view the event through the livestream to coincide with their discussions, and the students who attended were also able to expand their networks.


3. CINVESTAV Unidad Guadalajara, Mexico

Event: Global Grand Challenges Satellite Summit Mexico 2019

Synopsis: The event focused on AI and other transformational technologies aimed to close the gap between students, experts, innovators, entrepreneurs, and policy makers, and develop an international, regional and local ecosystem for sharing experiences and knowledge.

GGCS Mexico 2019


In Mexico the event took place on 17-18 September with 202 people in attendance, 40% of whom were students and with speakers representing the USA, Mexico and Canada. The event was said to mark an important step in the multi-disciplinary approach to collaborative working as participants discussed sustainable livelihoods for inclusive economic growth and innovation. In addition, the event had a panel focused on women in AI with the overall impact being the opportunity to expand the networks of the different research groups in attendance.


4. Mahidol University, Thailand

Event: Innogineer Predicts the World of 2050!

Synopsis: The event aimed to promote innovation and the development of graduates with an entrepreneurial mindset. This event demonstrated the significance of engineering in tackling global challenges. It motivated young engineers to find a solution to local challenges.

GGCS Thailand 2019


The event took place on 20-22 September 2019 and was attended by 152 students, lecturers and researchers consisted of participants from the USA, Myanmar, Cambodia, Japan as well as Thailand. The main focus of this hackathon style event was challenges in the health tech sector and it was said that students gained a greater understanding of biomedical engineering, the value of multidisciplinary teamwork and extended networks within the local community.


5. Makerere University, Uganda

Event: Engineering in an unpredictable world: How can transformational technologies change humanity for the better – The case for AI and transformational technologies in East Africa.

Synopsis: The event discussed the potential and current application of AI and other transformative technologies in solving common challenges in the East African region, with a special focus on the health sector.

GGCS Uganda 2019


The event took place at Makerere University from 16-19th September 2019 attended by a total of 135 people from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan. Sessions comprised of innovation workshops held around livestream of the plenary sessions, as well as a focus on AI and its impact on health and wellbeing and sustainable cities within the context of Uganda. Participants reported the event helped to develop and bring awareness to the skills required when using AI to solve common local challenges they may encounter. This is in addition to the new networks formed that have the potential to foster cross disciplinary collaborations.


6.  Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam

Event: Engineering in an unpredictable world: improving care of critically ill patients

Synopsis: The aim of this meeting was to bring together local, regional and global stakeholders in healthcare and biomedical engineering, strengthen existing partnerships and create new networks capable of designing and implementing sustainable new innovations.

GGCS Vietnam 2019

Summary: This event which took place on 17 and 18 September 2019 with 62 attendees, had several countries represented including the UK, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Nepal. The panel discussions organised focused on healthcare systems in low and middle income countries and how to make collaborative working more effective. The organisers confirmed that 40% of their panellists were female demonstrating gender diversity in their speakers. Following on from the event, organisers are planning on holding regular follow-up meetings on the topic and students will collaborate with the Hospital for Tropical Diseases (HTD) and foster connections between those of similar research interests that attended.


International involvement

In addition to funding the six satellite events that had a total attendance of over 1500 people, the Academy held an open call for expressions of interest from individuals to attend the Summit and foster international involvement, focussing on low and middle income countries.

To ensure the Summit is a truly global event, and to increase the global reach of the Summit, funding was available to support attendance for up to 100 engineers, innovators, and researchers across all career stages from developing countries.

Following the application and shortlisting process, 83 engineers, innovators, and researchers across all career stages were selected to take up funded places to attend the Summit. Attendees were from a wide selection of countries from across the globe, including: Mexico, USA, Canada, Vietnam, UK, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Japan, Kenya, Italy, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Belgium, Uganda amongst others.