Building ICT innovation capacity

15 Jun 2017 14:30h - 16:15h

Event report

[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]

The moderator, Dr Drasko Draskovic (International Telecommunication Union (ITU) expert) opened the 3rd session: Building ICT Innovation Capacity.

Draskovic started by presenting statistics on global connectivity. He said there were 18-20 billion Internet connections globally, and that these numbers will grow to 500 billion connections by 2030. The question is whether we are prepared to take advantage of this expansion.

Innovation capabilities are not just high-end technology-oriented, but should also be incorporated in our everyday activities, said Draskovic. Business innovation activities are much needed, but a number of suppressing factors affect new business start-ups and growth, such as funding, innovative ideas, and capital resources.

An introduction to new digital technologies’ use is the most important factor to drive innovation and business growth.

Ms Sunnie J. Groeneveld (Inspire 925) presented a case study for start-up eco-systems in Switzerland, and talked about Digital Zurich initiatives. This initiative fosters cross-industry exchange to build more digital skills benefitting everyone. Groeneved highlighted that an innovation culture needs to be developed within societies, and that this is the key to building and developing digital innovation and industry growth.    

Mr Sebastian Diaz (Startup Chile) gave an introduction to Startup Chile, which is a state-owned start-up innovator that focuses on bringing talented people to Chile to develop business and to drive innovation. Their model looks at giving benefits to entrepreneurs who come to Chile and subsequently build collaborations with local universities. They have an open acceleration model to boost the industry, which has fostered the establishment of more than 1300 start-ups and supported more than 3500 entrepreneurs from 79 countries.  

Prof. Tim Unwin (UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, Royal Holloway University of London) discussed the university sector’s involvement in promoting innovation. He mentioned that the target for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries to send students to universities was 50 percent, with the objective of increasing the percentage of students in higher education, thereby contributing significantly to GDP growth.  

In contrast, he noted that highly qualified people are not given necessary innovation skills to enhance their creativity. The solutions, according to Unwin, are to focus on excellence, creative knowledge, and innovation in universities, and putting more emphasis on supporting technical training institutes.

Mr Matthias Kuhn (Université de Genève-UNITEC) provided best practices in innovation by the University of Geneva. Kuhn went on to outline the fact that very little emphasis from universities was put on innovation from education. Student entrepreneurship is very important for fostering innovation, he said, pointing out that a number of initiatives, such as innovation funding for research and incubators were needed for innovation start-ups.

Mr Irakli Kashibadze (CEO, Future Laboratory Georgia) started off by saying, ‘supporting innovation is just as important as support for the digital divide.’ Digital transformation is happening at a faster pace, and companies need to adapt and innovate to be successful. Furthermore, he highlighted that investing in innovation is crucial in order to have innovation transformation happening in our countries.  

Ms Joy Tan (President of Corporate Communications, Huawei Technologies) gave a brief introduction of Huawei Technologies, which she said provides almost a third of global networking and connectivity. She noted that Huawei is also the third-largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world.

According to Tan, it is estimated that there will be many more connections in the next 5 years, and every person will likely have 7 connected devices by 2020. She explained that Huawei has joint innovation centres and laboratories around the world. Huawei’s Innovation Research Program (HIRP) focusses more on research and development, and training and talent development for the ICT area. Huawei has also collaboratively worked with 300 leading universities and academic partners globally for more than 10 years, to promote joint innovation. She pointed out that there is a huge gap in ICT talent, and that Huawei Technologies plans to bridge this gap with their global collaborations.      


by Elvin Prasad