Local innovation, international impact: SMEs and the ITU Telecom World Awards

Sponsored Content

Busan-1000x500px

(ITU, 2017)

What connects a group of young Rwandans building an app-based platform to manage data in schools with a new Japanese technology regenerating lead-acid batteries? Or a Danish solar-powered base station solution with a content delivery network and free Wifi connectivity platform from Kenya?

They are all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) working with ICT to improve lives and build businesses. They are all high-growth, scalable initiatives driven by passionate and talented individuals who have seen a social need and developed a niche solution. And they are all former finalists in the ITU Telecom World Awards.

The Awards programme is a central pillar of ITU Telecom World, the UN’s most influential tech event bringing together government, industry and development organizations from around the world to exhibit, network and debate. Since 2015, the event has widened its platform to focus on the growth of international tech SMEs through capacity-building, exchanging knowledge, and exploring partnership and investment potential.

Tech SMEs have a unique role to play in the digital economy – as a major driver of growth, creating jobs, accelerating innovation and increasing demand for and uptake of ICT services.

Small businesses have enormous potential to open new markets, creating disruptive solutions, value and scale much faster than bigger corporate players.

The ongoing fundamental shift in technologies, user behaviour and business models in the ICT sector, in particular the explosive growth of mobile broadband and the Internet, has fed into and powered the rise of tech SMEs, moving the locus of innovation from the centre to the edge of the network. Local entrepreneurs anywhere in the world with connectivity and capacity can innovate with maximum effect.

The key word here is local. Local practices, local solutions, local expertise for local challenges and local realities. The global ICT industry is no longer populated by corporates alone, but is also increasingly driven by small-scale development on the ground.

Supporting local development, digital entrepreneurs and tech SMEs throughout the world is therefore critical to not only address local challenges, but also to power growth in the ICT industry, bring online more and more of the 52% of the global population that remain unconnected, share the benefits of the digital economy, and enable social and economic development.

“Home-grown technology companies like BRCK, based in Nairobi, provide some of the best solutions to local problems,” according to Erik Hersman, CEO of BRCK, a Kenyan firm offering innovative connectivity solutions in a variety of local contexts, including tracking vehicles at airports, connecting students in off-grid schools and bringing free public WiFi to ordinary Africans.

BRCK won the ITU Telecom World Global SME in 2016 – and has seen a hugely positive impact on its business in terms of exposure, media coverage and key leads. The company has now deployed in over 15 countries, is talking to governments about major roll outs, and is working hard to make internet connectivity available to the more than 800 million unconnected in Africa.

As an important part of ITU Telecom World’s support programme for SMEs, the Awards offer finalists visibility on a global stage, access to highly relevant key potential partners, peer networking and UN credibility for their solutions. And BRCK are not the only ones to benefit.

Rwandan startup Academic Bridge entered the Awards with its app-based platform to collect, process, analyse and manage data in schools – and found the contact with experts, advisors and potential investors invaluable. Winning the Thematic Award for Education also brought the less tangible, but arguably more important, prize of visibility and credibility. As a result, Academic Bridge has increased its presence from 13 to 42 schools, including expansion into three countries outside Rwanda, growing and adapting technology and features to meet the differing requirements of an increased client base.

In the words of Mariam Muganga of Academic Bridge: “In the life of a startup, every founder wishes their story to be heard, wants their business to be trusted to grow; winning the Award makes all that possible. And you get to be heard by different potential people that feed you with great insights that can forever change you and your business.”

Bluetown, the Danish developers of an affordable and sustainable way of connecting the unconnected through a solar-powered base station, have also benefited concretely from the leads generated at the event, in particular through direct contact with decision-takers and policy makers in African governments. Bluetown will be back at ITU Telecom World 2017 speaking in a forum debate on new approaches to connectivity – drawing on their experience of providing easy, inexpensive access to local clouds through a WiFi hotspot of up to one kilometre in distance, connected to the internet over existing infrastructure such as microwave links, fibre, satellite balloons or drones.

The ITU Telecom World Awards are turning the spotlight onto local solutions and unexplored potential that can be scalable, replicable and solve global socio-economic problems. By breaking down silos, encouraging new partnerships with SMEs, and enabling valuable connections throughout the ICT ecosystem, the event both recognises the importance of this sector in creating innovative, sustainable social impact, and works actively to support it.

ITU Telecom World 2017 takes place in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 25 – 28 September – and the deadline for applications for the ITU Telecom World Awards is fast approaching!

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Europe provides financial support to African countries while Turkey denies to change terrorism laws jeopardising the EU deal

“Be aware where you put your I Agree signature on and something else”; now Facebook by default opts you in an unseen private data bazar

Ukrainian civil war: Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

Will the French let Macron destroy their party political system?

MWC 2016 LIVE: Stripe gives payments leg-up to startups in emerging markets

Zhua Zhou: Choosing The Future

Merkel’s triumph will make Berlin more unbending

“Hasta la vista” Google says to Spain and now Europe is next?

Alexis Tsipras ready to test Eurozone’s political sturdiness; Up to what point?

Press coverage of migration crisis in Europe: a call for collaborative action

G20 LIVE: The European Sting covers online world news and the latest developments at G20 from Antalya Turkey

Mario Draghi didn’t do it but Kim Jong-un did

The EU Commission by serving the banks offers poor support to European mainstream political parties

What options the new President of Ukraine has?

EU Parliament says ‘no’ to austerity budget

Parliament toughens its position on banking union

Alexandre in Czech Republic

EU Commission: a rise in wages and salaries may help create more jobs

American negotiators can’t pay for their trip to Brussels, EU-US trade agreement freezes

The European Commission cuts roaming charges. But “it’s not enough”…

Can one FTA and 110 lobby meetings make the dirty oil clean in Europe?

A day that Berlin and Brussels would remember for a long time

Who is responsible for public health? The tendencies and its benefits –or not– on Health Education around the world

China’s stock markets show recovery signs while EU is closely watching in anticipation of the €10bn investment

Europe must regain its place as world leader in digital technology

EU: Protecting victims’ rights from cartels and market abuses

Not much of a help the new EU Directive on pensions

Merry Christmas from Erdogan, Putin, Mogherini and the Polish firefighter

Quality Education on the table at the European Parliament

A Sting Exclusive: “Youth voice must be heard in climate change negotiations!”, Bérénice Jond Board Member of European Youth Forum demands from Brussels

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

The Franco-German axis considers that all EU needs now is more armaments

Eurozone dignitaries play with people’s life savings

Access to healthcare: what do we lack?

Advocate General ‘outlaws’ Data Retention Directive

The EU slowly exits from “Excessive Deficit Procedure” and hopefully from ‘Excessive Austerity Procedure’ too

The MWC14 Sting Special Edition

Catalan Pro-Independence vote: how many hits can Brussels sustain at the same time?

Lithuania should find its own way in the EU

IFMSA and IPSF on the Health of Migrants and Refugees

EU’s Mogherini visits Turkey “to step up engagement” and highlight interests

EU Parliament: It takes real banks to fight unemployment and recession

What the US and the world can expect from the 8 November election?

Hardened creditors drive Greece to dire straits; Tsipras desperate for an agreement

Let’s Learn

Only the Americans are unhappy with the ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine

Landmark EU Parliament – ECB agreement on bank supervision

A young student discusses the determinants of migration in the European Union

Breaking news on European Youth Employment: European Youth Forum Guide tackles poor quality internships!

Can China deal with climate change without the U.S.?

Solitary Britain sides with US aggressing Russia and chooses hard Brexit

A Year in China

The Banking Union divides deeply the European Union

EU threatens Japan to suspend FTA negotiations if…

The EU Parliament endorses tax on financial transactions

France and Poland to block David Cameron’s plans on immigration

How to provide health education and thus create better health systems

ECOFIN: Protecting bankers and tax-evaders

Bureaucracy in the member states again the obstacle for long due strong European Hedge Funds

Why France, Italy and the US press Germany to accept a cheaper euro and pay for Greece

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s