Why would 30 young entrepreneurs from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East travel to Dubai for the second annual Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Initiative Technology Idea (Tech-I) competition? Certainly, the top prize of $25,000 may have had something to do with it, but that was not the only factor. Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides said it best in his keynote speech at the third Global Entrepreneurship Summit. He explained, "Our Global Innovation through Science and Technology program, or GIST, runs start-up boot camps and business plan competitions to spark creativity and inspire young entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams."
GIST is funded by the U.S. Department of State and implemented in partnership with CRDF Global. It has reached over one million youths with tools and resources to spark new businesses. GIST has trained over 2,500 startups and created a network of young motivated entrepreneurs eager to take on the challenges and joys of being their own bosses, starting their own companies. GIST helps youth translate their innovative ideas into new companies, generating new jobs along the way.
How were these lucky top 30 participants selected? During this 2nd GIST Tech-I competition, applications poured in from more than 33 countries. All Tech-I applications included a video pitch and an executive summary judged by experts. The top 90 entries were posted online for public voting, which helped determine the top 30 contestants to be invited to Dubai for the third Global Entrepreneurship Summit where they pitched their businesses in the final round of the Tech-I competition.
The GIST finalists also participated in the Summit's Youth Entrepreneurship Forum, a joint program of the GIST initiative and Startup Youth. They discussed the challenges of balancing family life with building a new business and heard from about new partnerships between government and the private sector to spur innovation. John Defterios of CNN International led a discussion among GIST alumni and mentors and regional media on how new technologies and entrepreneurs are changing the media industry.
The Summit closed with the GIST Tech-I Awards Ceremony. Natali Ardianto from Indonesia won first place for his startup Tiket.com, which is an online travel and entertainment gateway based in Indonesia. Runner up went to Mohammad Taha from Lebanon for ma2too3a!, an application where users can alert others in real-time of roadblocks, riots, traffic jams, and news. Khaled Wagdy from Egypt was awarded second place for Motion Capture Systems, a high-quality, affordable 3D motion-capture systems for people creating games and animation movies.
These young entrepreneurs, who serve as role models in their home countries, have created remarkable technological innovations, from creating customized self-sanitizing surfaces to developing a new web-based diabetes monitoring platform. They have inspired all who attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. I wish the GIST Tech-I competition participants great success with their ventures.
More information on the GIST initiative can be found at www.facebook.com/GISTInitiative. I encourage you to learn more about the GIST and Tech-I by visiting the blog at http://gistiniative.wordpress.com/.