Soraya Fouladi

Soraya Fouladi is the Founder & CEO of Jara, on a mission to ensure the 816 Million children in high-poverty and low-connectivity communities globally can get access to a quality education, anywhere, anytime, through her invention, the Jara Unit, an off-grid charging e-learning device. Soraya has been awarded as Forbes 30 Under 30, Cisco Global Problem Solver, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus Fellow, United Nations Keynote Speaker, SOCAP Fellow, Skoll Delegate, Gratitude Network Fellow, One Young World Ambassador, and Deloitte SDG4 Scholar Awardee. Soraya came up with the idea for Jara as a teenager at the United Nations International School, went to university to study Electrical Engineering to learn how to build what is now the Jara Unit, became a teacher, then a business management consultant helping spin out 72 businesses/products/services from deep tech, and has been building Jara for the past 7 years with an inspiring global team.

Jara closes the global digital divide by building the e-learning solution, the Jara Unit, for children in high-poverty, low-electricity and low-internet communities globally. The Jara Unit, a learning tool for children and teaching tool for teachers, is a heavily research-backed solution Jara has co-created alongside under-served communities for years. It is a crank-powered and solar-powered off-grid charging education device that enables children to get access to e-learning and distance learning at all times. Together with LG, Intel, and with support from Cisco, Deloitte, Deepak Chopra, and more, they are on a mission to ensure the 800 Million children who had no access to education during the pandemic, especially girls, in under-resourced communities, refugee camps, and post-disaster zones can get equitable and continuous access to the education they need to break their cycles of poverty and make their dreams come true.

Dhairya Dand

Dhairya is an award winning researcher, designer and engineer, currently running ODD Industries (futurist factory X lab) in NYC, and sits on the advisory board of the XPRIZE Foundation.

Dhairya’s work investigates the human body as a medium for computation, new materials as a tool to embody interactions and design as a vehicle for mindfulness. His work is situated in the belief that human well-being in an increasingly computational world can be achieved at the intersection of thoughtful design, innovative engineering and radical paradigms. Most of his work is quirky, funny, provocative and ugly.

He has created shoes that tickle, a 2.5D malleable elastic display, synthetic muscles, ice-cubes that know how much you drink, toys made from electronic waste materials, emotionally intelligent flowers, wearable telepresence apparatus, optically invisible fibre-optics among other useless/useful inventions.

In Seattle, Dand was part of Amazon’s secretive Concept Lab, where he is credited for key inventions and Alexa devices. Some of his inventions which are public, involve invisible interfaces and using hand gestures to use the air as a medium for computing.

His work has been exhibited at various places around the world including the V&A, MIT Museum, Singapore Arts House; his research published at academic conferences including CHI, TEI, UIST; and has been written and interviewed in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, CNN, BBC, ABC, Forbes Magazine, NPR, Discovery among others. He has given keynotes at major international technology and innovation forums including; W3C Annual Summit, Tencent, TEDx, 72andSunny, Second Home, INK Talks, Contagious Future Flash, MIT Museum and WIRED.

He was part of the Forbes ’30 under 30’ list, ELLE’s ’20 Names To Know’ list, was named as the first WIRED Innovation fellow ‘innovators who will change our world’ and an INK Fellow, part of Globe’s ‘Top 25 Innovators’ list, the Smithsonian’s National Design Award and Vogue’s ‘Cool People’ list.

Previously he was a researcher at the MIT Media Lab in Boston and prior to that he was an amateur geologist in Saudi Arabia, a sensorial researcher in Tokyo, a toy designer in Phnom Penh, activist and researcher in Singapore, social-political entrepreneur/researcher in Bombay.

He holds a master’s degree in Media, Arts and Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied at the Media Lab with Pattie Maes (Fluid Interfaces Group), Henry Holtzman (Information Ecology Group) and was advised by Jun Rekimoto (University of Tokyo/Sony CSL), Ethan Zuckerman (Civic Media) and Philipp Schmidt (P2PU).

He has also taught semester-long studio-focused graduate courses at the Art Institute and several week-long innovation workshops with the MIT Media Lab Initiative of which he is also the Founding Director.

He has managed to live, work and study in Seattle, Cambridge, New York, London, Ad-Dammam, Tokyo, Phnom Penh, Singapore and Bombay and wishes to continue this cross-cultural wandering.