The 3rd infoDev Global Forum on Innovation & Entrepreneurship concluded today in Florianopolis, Brazil, ending a remarkable week-long convening of nearly 1000 representatives from developing world business incubators across the world.
infoDev, a World Bank-sponsored organization, convened the Forum to bring together members of its nearly 300 global incubators from 86 countries to advance the group’s training, capacity, and information sharing within its network, which works to foster sustainable small businesses throughout the developing world. The Global Forum was cosponsored by the Brazilian Association of Science Parks and Business Incubators (ANPROTEC).
infoDev’s work promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in developing countries is based on the knowledge that a thriving private sector is essential to sustainable development. The value of entrepreneurship is not limited to economic growth alone. Innovative and entrepreneurial solutions can make meaningful contributions to solving the global food and climate crises as well as providing economic opportunities for women and youth entrepreneurs.
In order to address these issues, the Global Forum led discussions and knowledge-sharing on how to leverage business incubation to enable women and youth entrepreneurs and to foster growth in the agriculture, clean technology, and ICT sectors; featured demonstrations of global good practices on policies that promote Innovation and entrepreneurship and encourage successful public-private partnerships; showcased innovative approaches to financing start-up enterprises and dialogue on strengthening business incubation-financier relationships; and held sessions in the fields of co-incubation, technology commercialization, and incubator management training.
Among the specific outputs at the Global Forum are the launch of infoDev’s latest regional incubator network in the Caribbean. The Caribbean network will be based in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and will work to leverage opportunities for start-up companies in ten island nations.
Another key output was the launch of the Global Innovation Commons, an online open source tool for identifying existing innovations that are within the public domain and available for further innovation by any individual or organization.
The Forum also made valuable contributions to the potential for further innovation in the fields of mobile technology and clean technology by developing world enterprises. infoDev’s Climate Technology Program is working within the network to help developing countries grow a viable clean technology sector of their own. infoDev’s partnership with the government of Finland and Nokia is working to help developing world mobile content entrepreneurs harness the business potential that will arise as part of the extraordinary growth in mobile services across the developing world.
At the global level, infoDev used the Forum to focus its membership on the need to strengthen knowledge sharing among developing countries and create further south-south links and sharing of best practices. A key element of this effort is iDISC, infoDev’s online portal, which serves as a support center for incubators, and a repository of information and training materials, as well as a dissemination mechanism for the worldwide community infoDev serves. Today, iDISC is used by more than 5000 people in the developing world every week.
The Global Forum on Innovation and Technology is a biennial event. This year’s forum was the first held in Latin America. The first two events were convened in India. At the conclusion of the Forum, infoDev and the government of Finland jointly announced that the 4th Global Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship will be convened in Helsinki in 2011.