Creative SMEs, innovative digital solutions: your chance to see the best new tech for good ideas at the ITU Virtual Digital World 2020 Awards

Imagine a new, sustainable way of cooling the world’s data centres that not only reduces waste heat, but transforms it into an efficient source of energy.

A healthcare app to collect and store patient information, developed in Mozambique but with the power to improve health systems and patient outcomes throughout Africa and beyond.

Or a South Korean platform making use of machine learning and drones to provide real time checks on road conditions, an Indonesian micro-financing platform for SMEs, or a Nairobi-based firm providing innovative connectivity solutions to connect students in off-grid schools.

All fantastic ideas, all creative uses of technology with very real positive impact in the world – and all past winners of the ITU Telecom World SME Awards, a United Nations programme offering visibility, credibility, partnerships and business leads to startups and SMEs from across the globe since 2015 as part of ITU Digital World, the leading UN tech event for governments, corporates and small businesses.

Like so many other events and initiatives, this year’s Awards programme has gone online – welcoming applications from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) around the world tackling global challenges through innovative ICT-based solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed just how much we depend on digital technology in every area of our lives. We need tech SMEs and entrepreneurs with tech skills and creative solutions now more than ever, as we work together to respond to the crisis, recover and build back better together.

So the ITU Virtual Digital World 2020 SME Awards, with its Awards Ceremony on 7 December, is particularly significant. It’s not just about continuing to grow our community and offer opportunity to tech SMEs working for social good – it’s also a chance to recognize excellence, build resilience and foster investment in tech SMEs in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis.

Startups or SMEs with innovative solutions for social good from around the world have pitched their ideas in one of four categories: Connectivity, increasing universal access to the internet; Smart cities, smart living, using digital tech to improve urban life in areas such as energy, food management or education; E-health, improving healthcare through remote diagnosis, monitoring or care in the home; and Digital Finance, increasing and improving access to the economy for the banked and unbanked.

From Angola to Zambia via Brunei, Italy, India, the USA and everywhere in between, ideas include using very small satellites to access Internet of Things sensors and monitor the environment, pocket-sized portable electrocardiograms connecting doctors and patients wherever they are, a navigational platform for smart public transit systems – and simple mobile tech bringing smallholder farmers in emerging markets into the digital economy.

The best entrant in each category will be announced in the Awards Ceremony on 7 December by ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao and the Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam, hosts of both this year’s ITU Virtual Digital World 2020 and the next physical event, ITU Digital World 2021.

The winners will receive online visibility on the ITU Digital World website, UN recognition, a unique certificate of achievement – and an invitation to join us at  ITU Digital World 2021 in Hai Noi, Viet Nam,  12-15 October 2021, and take part in our full SME Programme on site and in person.

You can see what our winners from previous events have to say, including Switzerland’s Serge Conesa, CEO & Founder of Immersion4, that groundbreaking data centre cooling system: “Being recognized for our work, this is just the beginning, there is a long journey ahead but it has started so well – people here understand the problems and really want to make a difference. It’s overwhelming!”

Or Mulweli Rebolo of Ologa Sistemas from Mozambique, developers of the Sure Track healthcare app: “This Award took us to a new level, with many invitations to participate in events, talk about our product and speak at various panels – and we’ve been approached by several entities who would like to pilot the solution with a view to becoming a client.”

Fellow Award winner Iwan Kurniawan, CEO of micro-financing platform Modalku, agrees: “The Global SME was uplifting for our brand, enhancing our credibility with the Indonesian public as well as investors, existing and new. We more than doubled our business within 6 months of winning, raised a US$25M Series B funding and have hired many more great people into our team”.

Real value, real opportunities, real positive social impact – the benefits of the ITU Digital World 2020 SME Awards are very real, even if the platform is virtual. Follow the pitching and join the Awards Ceremony live on 7 December 2020 to find out the winners!

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