Spotlight: 4th Glo...

Photo: 4th Global Forum4th Global Forum

Spotlight: 4th Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship

Bringing together a global network to share a world of knowledge and experience

infoDev's 4th Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship was held in Helsinki, Finland, from May 30-June 3, 2011. The Global Forum brought together 585 participants from 85 different countries and awarded 20 entrepreneurs with international acceleration packages.

An exciting week of business incubator manager training, various hot topic panels, and hands-on workshops during the Global Forum showcased innovative approaches to fostering entrepreneurship for development from across our global network and partner programs.

During the course of the Global Forum, the infoDev Top 50 SMEs were featured at the Global Forum's first-ever SME Fair, 20 SMEs received infoDev Access to Markets & Finance awards, five new mLabs were announced, two agricultural sourcebooks were launched, more than 150 people received incubation related training, infoDev's first 5 trainers from Africa were certified, and countless new networking connections were formed. 

Photo: Getting to Know the Top 50

The 4th Global Forum had a particular focus on Agribusiness, Mobile Applications, and Climate Technologies - all with the objective to better understand how technology-led innovation supports inclusive growth, competitiveness and the creation of quality jobs. These sectors were featured through a series of deep dive sessions that included panelists from infoDev's global network: business incubation practitioners and experts, Top50 SMEs and other private companies from around the world, policymakers, and financiers.

Finding Links in Global Agribusiness & Entrepreneurship Experiences
Innovative Agribusiness: A Closer Look at three Top 50 winners
Mobile Applications for Development Experts Converge at infoDev Global Forum
Enabling Enterprise Growth & Job Creation: Launch of mLab East Africa
Climate Tech Deep-Dive Adds a Greener Perspective to the Global Forum
Designing a Climate Innovation Center in Ethiopia
Top 50 SMEs Emphasize Unconventional Connections through Mobile and ICT

The Agribusiness deep dive session opened with a plenary discussion on the journey of agribusiness entrepreneurs and ended with a highly interactive, audience-led collaboration session. The format allowed audience members to address issues important to them and receive input from colleagues around the world.  In one group, a former incubator manager from Nepal found that his troubles – low value-add, limited post-harvest processing power, poor infrastructure – closely mirrored that of a Nigerian food supplier. Working with participants from Panama, Pakistan, Italy and Mexico, they outlined a distributed method of processing food locally, thus accruing more value to farmer collectives. The workshop was extremely motivating and underlined the need to find collaborative models that link the entire agricultural value-chain.

Photo: Janmitra Devan

The Mobile sessions featured infoDev’s five mobile application laboratories (mLabs): mLab Southern Africa; mLab East Africa; mLab Europe and Central Asia; mLab South Asia; and mLab East Asia. Additional members of this emerging community of practice present in Helsinki were representatives of the global mobile social networking hubs, developers, entrepreneurs, and many others using mobiles for development. In addition, 380 participants gathered for a Mobile Monday event where additional infoDev chapters joined the worldwide MoMo network. This was followed by a full day “deep dive” session that covered various aspects of using mobile applications in development efforts. Topics included the use of mobiles amongst those at the base of the pyramid, applications in sectors such as health and agriculture, and business models to support mobile application entrepreneurs.

The Climate Technology Workshop gathered cleantech SMEs and Policymakers to discuss common barriers to and practical solutions for developing innovative and sustainable climate technologies. The deep dive session was also an opportunity to discuss infoDev's Climate Innovation Centers (CICs) with a wider audience and describe how they will provide financing, incubation, and other services for climate technology SMEs and entrepreneurs. Cleantech panelists used their extensive industry and local regional expertise to discuss development opportunities and the best way to leverage global partnerships with public, private, and academic entities.

In addition to the general sessions, infoDev hosted a closed door Policymaker Roundtable led by Mr. Janamitra Devan, Vice President of the Financial Private Sector Development Unit of the World Bank, and Mr. Jorma Julin, Director General of the Department for Development Policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The Policymaker Roundtable allowed those present to have an open discussion about funding innovation, policy environments, and international collaboration. Policymakers also had an opportunity to spend time getting to know the backgrounds and country environments of their fellow participants in order to form cross-national relationships and learn from the policy situations of neighbors and potential partners.

As the Global Forum grew to a close, infoDev was thrilled to announce the 20 SMEs of the infoDev Top 50 that had been selected to receive Access to Markets & Finance awards. Based on the critiques of 12 expert judges, all of whom were highly experienced investment professionals and represented all regions of the world; rankings were assigned to the SMEs based on their concepts, business plans, and market potential. Online voting from the Nokia IdeasProject platform also was taken into account in the final rankings. Each of the 20 awardees will receive a customized package of services and financial assistance meant to assist the SMEs with meeting their future business goals for scaling and sustainability.

The 4th Global Forum was an exciting milestone event within the partnership program Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy among the Government of Finland, Nokia and infoDev. infoDev extends a special thank you to all the session leaders, steering committee members, speakers, moderators and participants who joined us in Helsinki and made the 4th Global Forum a resounding success!

Building on the success of previous Global Forums in India, Brazil, and Finland, infoDev looks forward to welcoming you to South Africa in 2013 for the 5th Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship to demonstrate how technology-led innovation supports inclusive growth, competitiveness and the creation of quality jobs.

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