Professor Hayat Sindi

Professor Sindi is one of the world’s leading bio technologists, and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Sciences. She is the founder and President of the Institute for Imagination and Ingenuity (i2institute), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She is also a co-founder and director of ‘Diagnostics for All’, a nonprofit institution fusing biotechnology and microfluidics, which looks to creating low-cost, easy-to-use, point-of-care diagnostics which are designed for the 60% of the developing world that lives out of reach of medical infrastructures.

Professor Sindi was born in Makkah, Saudi Arabia and graduated in Pharmacology from Kings College London. She is the first Saudi woman to obtain a PhD in Biotechnology from the University of Cambridge, later studying at MIT and Harvard. She is one of the first female members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabi, has been a visiting Professor at Harvard University and has presented her work in the House of Commons.

Professor Sindi has a truly international reputation and is passionate about raising the awareness of the sciences. She won the “Mekkah Al Mukaram” Prize for scientific innovation in 2010, awarded by HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal and in 2012 became a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Professor Sindi was named one of Newsweek‘s “150 Women Who Shake the World” and by Arabian Business as the 19th most influential Arab and ninth most influential Arab woman.

Professor Sindi has a strong determination to tackle challenging issues and this is reflected in her own academic journey. Despite coming from humble means, having never traveled outside Saudi Arabia or speaking any English, she moved to England with the wish to attend University. She learned English by watching BBC news and studied daily, sometimes up to 20 hours a day for University entrance exams. Against such improbable odds, Hayat became the first Saudi woman accepted at Cambridge University in the male dominated field of biotechnology.

Professor Sindi is famously quoted to say that; “when people tell [her] things are impossible, it just gives [her] energy”. Annually, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT – USA) sponsors the $100,000 Entrepreneurship Competition. When Professor Sindi decided to enter for her paper-based diagnostic innovation, she was told it could never win as a nonprofit organisation. Many advised her to gain investors and submit a for-profit plan with proven earnings. This could take 10-15 years, which was far too long for her and those that need medical care to wait she decided, so she continued to push her plan forward and succeeded in becoming the first nonprofit enterprise ever to win the prestigious international contest. Her team also won the Harvard Enterprise Competition—the first group ever to win both prizes in the same year.

Professor Sindi’s irrepressible passion and achievements have made her a role model for women in the Middle East and around the world. She lectures and appears on talk shows regularly and even bicycled across the Middle East with hundreds of professional women to highlight the plight of women and children.

The i2institute’s mission is; “to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and social innovation for scientists, technologists and engineers in the Middle East and beyond.” They wish to give every scientist the opportunity to discover and fulfill their potential, for themselves and for their societies.


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