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Research Associate Leads Winning Team at CLIMATHON 2021

November 25, 2021

Photo Caption: Abhijith Suboyin and other regional innovators with H.R.H. Princess Abze Djigma, Ambassador for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency of Burkina Faso and Initiator and Leader of the ‘MAMA-LIGHT Initiative for Sustainable Energy”, a worldwide program that provides access to affordable energy for women, small business and children. The program was selected by the United Nations as one of the 14 global breakthrough solutions for achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals.


Abhijith led the Dubai team that won Best Cohort in the Agribusiness category and Top Cohort Winner at Climathon 2021. Their winning solution proposes a restructured product labeling system that improves data transparency and promotes sustainable practices, while also building trust among producers, retailers, and consumers. 


Climathon 2021 is a climate change initiative that brings together innovators around the globe who have the passion, expertise, and capability to tackle climate challenges. The hybrid event took place from October 2 to 12, 2021 and was co-hosted by the UAE Ministry of Change and Environment and the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO). The event is also led by Ideanco in partnership with UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 


This year, Climathon connected 475 innovators from 9 selected cities, namely New York, Bristol, Tampa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Orange County, Dubai, and Beirut, to resolve three core challenges: agribusiness, air pollution, and mobility. 


The event was divided into three parts:

  • Greenhouse (Learn) – A virtual sustainable academy offering hands-on experience to validate ideas, build business models and structures, and form teams. 
  • Greenhouse (Award & Explore) – Innovators based in the UAE were invited to attend the World Green Economy Summit (WGES) 2021 at the Dubai Expo. 
  • C-Lab (Ideate) – This part of the event is dedicated mainly to come up with climate solutions for the participating cities. Each core challenge is shared with three focused cities, with each city having one cohort or team. 


Khalifa University’s Abhijith Suboyin, a Petroleum Engineering Research Associate, was among the top innovators shortlisted to participate in the finals and chosen to lead the Dubai cohort. Abhijith’s team was assigned in the agribusiness category and they had to propose solutions for the challenge within 72 hours. 


To address the agribusiness challenge, Abhijith and his teammates devised a solution that redefines product labeling. The solution is a simple, color-coded, and restructured labeling system that is compliant with ISO 28219:2017 and Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, and addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Good Health & Well-Being (SDG 3) and Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12). 


They came up with a system where labels will incorporate a QR code, an illustration of key components (including allergens), and sustainability metrics that will be available in an app accessible and easily understandable by everyone, including those with disabilities. The platform will contain a digital, decentralized ledger for data transparency and tracking food provenance to create/promote sustainable practices, as well as build trust among producers, retailers, and consumers. 


The team’s proposal impressed the judges and won Best Cohort in the Agribusiness category. The cohort also garnered the highest score out of all the other cohorts in all three challenge categories, catapulting them to take home the Top Cohort Winner award. 


“Participating in Climathon was an extraordinary experience and is definitely something we hope to carry with us for the rest of our lives. I am extremely grateful to everyone involved, especially for their support and allowing our team to share our ‘dream’/‘solution’,” Abhijith said. 


“As someone in R&D, I’ve always been motivated by creative projects, teamwork, and contributing to the pool of knowledge to design a better future. Furthermore, it is rare to get an opportunity to present an idea and potentially implement it in reality. Thankfully, we live in one of the best regions that fosters scientific curiosity, growth, and development.


“We all, particularly the KU community, have the capability to do better and work towards a brighter future. And I encourage everyone to have a look around, as events such as these are a great place for us to kick-start this journey,” he added. 


Ara Maj Cruz
Creative Writer
25 November 2021