The 2020 edition of the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Global Innovation Forum
, held from 26 to 30 October, highlighted the critical role of entrepreneurship-driven innovation in the context of a global pandemic and it honoured the winners of the 2020 ITU Innovation Challenges.
"Supporting entrepreneurship-driven innovation has never been more important," noted ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "Simply put, innovation pushes the boundaries of what is possible. It creates jobs, economic growth, and new ways to tackle the world's most pressing challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. ICT innovators need access to the resources to take their ideas to market and access to a well-developed broadband infrastructure."
While digital technologies have the potential to change lives and significantly accelerate sustainable development, many communities lack access to an enabling environment as key stakeholders often fail to understand, develop and renew the competitive practices that fuel digital transformation. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for countries' transition to a digital economy by negatively affecting socio-economic conditions worldwide.
"Entrepreneurship-driven innovation has been a rising priority for ITU stakeholders since the 2014 World Telecommunication Development Conference in Dubai," said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau. "This forum enabled participants to share insights and discover new practices. By bringing diverse stakeholders to connect with change-makers for more action-oriented outcomes, we hope that symbiotic relationships will develop to ensure sustainable and competitive digital ecosystems that unlock communities' potential."
During the five-day event, 175 experts in innovation, entrepreneurship and technology discussed how to accelerate digital transformation in their communities, mainstream entrepreneurship and find resources required for digital innovation, and bring resource, problem and solution owners together to achieve digital inclusion.
Winners of the 2020 ITU Innovation Challenges
The forum concluded with an awards ceremony honouring the 20 winners of the 2020 ITU Innovation Challenges and a virtual pitch session of seven winning projects to a global audience of experts.
Twelve women and eight men received awards across three challenge categories: The digital change-maker, ecosystem best practice, and women in tech.
Tafadzwa Ronald Chikwereti (Zimbabwe), Carlos Eduardo Mosquera Reyes (United States), Mojca Karin Rehar (France), Ikechukwu Umezurumba (Nigeria), James Gachara Kiruri (Kenya), and Thomas Müller (South Africa) won the digital change-maker challenge category.
In the category of the ecosystem best practice challenge, the following contenders won: Dominic Chidiebere Nwaogu (Nigeria), Diana Artiom (Moldova), Nahel Muhammad Amirah (Egypt), Ivana Kostic (Serbia), Galina Dremova (Russia), Wilda Romadona (Indonesia), Laila Abdullah Khasib Al Hadhrami (Oman), Zainab Khan (Pakistan), and Franca Vinci (Italy).
Finally, the winners of the women in tech challenge category were: Nindya Miesye Agita Pasaribu (Indonesia), Calister Apollonary Simba (Tanzania), Achia Khaleda Nila (Bangladesh), Rani Mutiarawati (Indonesia), and Nabuyuni Ann Sankan (Kenya).
Note to editors
The Global Innovation Forum is a flagship ITU event that focuses on fostering innovation based on information and communication technologies (ICTs), in line with Members States' expectation from the Connect 2030 Agenda to “enable innovation in telecommunications/ICT in support of the digital transformation of society" (Goal 4).
Held under the theme “Mainstreaming competitive digital innovation ecosystems in the age of COVID-19", the ITU 2020 Global Innovation Forum sought to empower entrepreneurs, academics, policy-makers, the private sector and other relevant actors with good practices, insights, tools, frameworks, and relevant case studies to understand how to accelerate digital transformation. The event brought together 700 participants and 175 experts in innovation, entrepreneurship and technology.
The 2020 ITU Innovation Challenges is the second edition of this competition, organized by ITU with contributions from
and INPUT Hungary.
It ran from 4 May to 31 August 2020, receiving submissions from 26 countries. A jury of 12, with six external experts and six ITU experts, selected the winning ideas. Before their participation in the Global Innovation Forum, the winners went through a boot camp in early October where they received support from 25 mentors from 18 countries.