[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]
This workshop was organised by the ITU and Poland. The moderator of the session was Mr Mohamed Ba (Head of Innovation, ITU).
The objective of this workshop was to discuss national innovation approaches and digital transformation roadmaps; building digital innovation agencies, defining the role of agents; capacity building for digital innovation; knowledge sharing through innovation networks and collaborative environments; and inspiring success stories of start-up companies offering innovative solutions for sustainable development.
Dr Sang-yirl Nam (Korea Information Society Development Institute) shared the Korean experience. He attributed the growth of start-ups in Korea to structural changes, long-term reforms, identifying growth engines to facilitate innovations, and establishment of regional clusters of innovation ecosystem to foster start-ups. He disclosed that most start-ups in Korea are located in the Gangnam districts, owing to low office rent and the accessibility of technically skilled workers at a reasonable cost. He acknowledged the role of government in forming start-up friendly policies, and the support of investors and other supporting agencies.
Mr Anir Chowdhury (Policy Advisor, Access to Information (A2i) Programme, Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh) shared the experience of Bangladesh and the five areas where governments can help in innovation and startup policies: mindset, risk capital incubation, upscaling platforms, and educational transformation. He shared the paradigm shifts observed in start-ups in Bangladesh, which include: role reversal, non-big bang approach, death to silo; end of subsidies; govpreneurship, and leverage instinct. Challenges for start-ups in Bangladesh he observes are related to IT valuation, absence of all types of investors, technologists not understanding markets, the ease of doing business, the educational system, the ecosystem, and the lack of mentors.
While sharing details of the A2i program, Chowdhury explained more about the initiative for improving ease of doing business through a G2B portal. He elaborated on the need for incubators and accelerators, and ways in which the government has aided in scaling up digital centres through private-public partnerships, enhancing micro entrepreneurship, improving education and skills for innovation and critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.
Ms Zeren Altinok (Turkcell) shared how Turkcell’s mobile application ‘Hello Hope’ is helping to address the issues of Syrian refugees in Turkey through the use of technology. Responding to a question whether Turkcell’s mobile app of can be replicated to other communities, Altinok mentioned that the company is investigating this possibility.
Mr Michał Chrostek (Notel) pointed to the need for connectivity and the importance of how it is delivered. He shared experiences from Notel and their telecommunication web portal rfbenchmark.eu, which provides consumers with a transparent way to benchmark network performance and transparency. To promote the web portal, Chrostek hopes for better cooperation with telecom regulators and higher visibility of the RFB community.
Mr Andrzej Szłapa (3D Kreator) spoke about 3D printing and the product SYNE, developed by 3D Kreator, along with the advantages of using SYNE, which is a healthy 3D printing system they developed, which neutralises chemicals.
Responding to a question from Ba about the things in policy that are important for start-ups and innovation, Chowdhury shared that it should develop an ecosystem where start-ups are guided by innovators, and encourage investment. Szlapa emphasised the need to define what a start-up is, and keep evolving. Chrostek highlighted the importance of ideas; the evaluation of profitability; the use of different strategies, and continuous change in the approach to achieve the objectives. Nam stressed the function of innovation, the encouragement of entrepreneurship, and cooperation with large enterprises and global market networks. Altinok suggested using technology for good, and having a foolproof plan for execution.
Ba summarised the session by highlighting that many countries need growth and inclusion. There are both challenges and excitement for entrepreneurs. There is a need for a multistakeholder approach, dynamic and grassroot level policy along with ideas to work on the right problem. He pointed out that while governments can play the role of facilitator, it is the role of private players to manage incubators and run businesses. There is a need for global and local linkages, and collaboration between countries and stakeholders.
by Amrita Choudhury