Shamakhi, 1 September 2019 – The second Innovation Camp (InnoCamp) organized jointly by the UN Development Programme and the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies ends today opening new possibilities for business-minded youth and innovators to join forces in solving social, environmental and economic challenges through innovations and startups.
The Innovation Camp is part of the joint Idea to Business (I2B) initiative, which aims to support the increase of startup culture in the country and to help youth across the rural communities of Azerbaijan improve their business acumen and realise their startup ideas turning them into successful small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Launched in April 2018, the initial round of the I2B and the first InnoCamp in Azerbaijan have seen nationwide startup tours set to support young aspiring entrepreneurs in designing proposals and prototypes that are bankable and building startups that can make social impact and spur business growth.
Speaking at the InnoCamp roundtable discussions with innovation experts, UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Alessandro Fracassetti said: “Innovation, youth, business and technology are important for our development work not only in this country, but across the globe. Youth bring a lot of creative thinking and really have a great potential to lead business startups if they learn and operate in an environment that is conducive to a vibrant economy, a robust innovation ecosystem and a business scene where startups can grow into successful SMEs and flourish.”
The InnoCamp comes at a crucial time for Azerbaijan, where the Government is capitalising on business opportunities and innovation. Azerbaijan is among the top ten reformers, worldwide, according to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report for 2018, making the country 25th most favorable investment destination among 190 countries. Home to 200 startups, Azerbaijan was recently ranked top third among the CIS countries for its startup ecosystem and a number of progressive developments to expand and solidify the national support system for startups.
Tapping into the current trends, this year’s edition of the Innovation Camp emphasised the need for greater partnership both at the policymaking and grassroots levels to improve the startup and innovation ecosystem in Azerbaijan, leveraging on the country’s unparalleled potential in this sector.
Noting the importance of ongoing progressive developments to bolster an innovation and startup ecosystem in Azerbaijan, Head of the Shamakhi Executive Authority Mr. Tahir Mammadov also emphasised that “all the stakeholders should come together and tap on the resources they can provide to ensure that innovation processes centred in the capital Baku benefit everyone, including those living in the rural areas.”
The first two days of the InnoCamp offered 54 I2B participants and 18 teams representing different regions of Azerbaijan hands-on training sessions on technical excellence, organizational and project management, business development, marketing and communications skills, agility tools, financial literacy and planning, among other competencies necessary to build a successful business. The training programme continued today with the participating team’s demo presentations, in preparation for the upcoming I2B National Finals scheduled to take place in Baku later this fall, with the total of ten teams from Baku to compete for top prizes at the Finals.
In addition to the training programme, the InnoCamp also featured roundtable sessions, which brought together the government, key innovators, technology parks, incubation and startup acceleration centres to discuss major opportunities and challenges of the startup ecosystem in Azerbaijan.
The InnoCamp was organized within the UNDP and Government-led joint project aimed at modernising the sustainability and efficiency of Azerbaijan’s ICT infrastructure and ICT services and funded by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies.
The InnoCamp and the nationwide I2B tours were made possible through substantial support of a number of key partners and stakeholders, with the Regional Development Public Union of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Azerbaijan’s Youth Fund, the country’s prominent mobile operator Azercell and the Microsoft Corporation among them.
The innovation programmes and initiatives unfolding in Shamakhi have also seen continuous support from the Shamakhi Executive Authorities, which put innovation at the forefront of regional development.
On the sidelines of the second InnoCamp, Head of UNDP in Azerbaijan Alessandro Fracassetti met with Head of Shamakhi Executive Authority Mr. Tahir Mammadov to discuss the immense potential for innovative practices in education, agriculture and environment. Bilateral discussions drew upon future collaboration to build robotics labs and Roboparks for schoolchildren in Shamakhi as well as to develop the Smart Cities concept for Shamakhi.
For media inquiries, please contact Arzu Jafarli, Communications and External Relations Analyst for UNDP in Azerbaijan at firstname.lastname@example.org