CELEBRATE | November 8, 2018

It Takes a Global Village: GIST Supports Startup Ecosystems in Central Asia

Photo Credit: C.A.T. Accelerator

Innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) is a potent pathway for scientists and aspiring inventors, and plays a significant role in economic growth. Increasingly, government leaders around the world are expanding direct support of innovative ideas and entrepreneurial programming to create the next wave of inventor-entrepreneurs.

There are currently many regions around the globe with burgeoning startup ecosystems that have significant potential to become leading I&E hubs. That potential is often realized when both the local and global I&E community jointly offer training, guidance, and resources to the early-stage innovators working to transform impactful inventions into scalable ventures. This activity increases the likelihood for a steady pipeline of globally-relevant innovations that can be adopted by international markets, further spurring and accelerating growth of new ventures.

Supporting startup ecosystems in emerging economies is the vision of the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative—a U.S. Department of State program. Through networking, skills building, mentoring, and access to financing, GIST empowers science and technology innovators and entrepreneurs to develop startup solutions that address economic and development challenges in their region. Early-stage innovators in these regions are given access to valuable resources through competitions, startup trainings, and interactive online programs.

The latest iteration of GIST programming is the GIST Regional Startup Training Central Asia. The program is the first-ever startup training program for science and technology entrepreneurs in the area. Central Asia’s strategy for economic growth is focused more and more on innovation and entrepreneurship. To ensure science and technology startups are equipped to actively contribute to the region’s economic growth strategy, GIST Regional Startup Training Central Asia will provide early-stage innovators with must-have skills and tools to launch successful ventures. GIST is partnering with C.A.T. Science Accelerator, the first accelerator in Uzbekistan for scientific projects and the commercialization of scientific development, to implement the program and help facilitate connections with local stakeholders.

Since 2011, GIST has engaged with science and technology innovators and entrepreneurs in 136 emerging economies around the world. The success of GIST programs hinges on bringing together regional partners and international trainers and mentors to support early-stage innovators. The innovator-entrepreneurs not only learn skills to grow their businesses, they develop critical connections to key players in both the local and global I&E ecosystem. This network becomes a valuable resource for guidance, information, and connections as innovators move along their entrepreneurship journey.

According to Shahlo Turdikulova of C.A.T. Science Accelerator and Director of the Centre for Advanced Technology in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, GIST Regional Startup Training Central Asia is a welcome opportunity to gain new insights around training and mentoring innovators.

“The mission of our accelerator is to help science-based innovators commercialize their ideas. The GIST startup training program will offer much-needed guidance for how we can best engage and support our current and future accelerator cohorts.”

In addition to supporting innovators in Central Asia, the program will also offer guidance to local stakeholders on how best to catalyze regional economic development. As Central Asia builds networks and infrastructure to ensure the growing ecosystem becomes a key driver of economic growth, regional stakeholders will have opportunities to build connections with I&E thought leaders from around the world. This global network will allow local investors, business leaders, and government officials to gather a broad range of insights and best practices for amplifying the economic impact of local startup activity.

Through intensive training and mentoring, identifying customer needs, honing business ideas, and perfecting pitches, I’m confident that GIST Regional Startup Training Central Asia will provide the necessary knowledge, tools, and connections to take the entire region’s I&E ecosystem to the next level.

GIST Regional Startup Training Central Asia takes place during Global Entrepreneurship Week in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from November 13-16. The program is designed for science and technology innovators and entrepreneurs from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Participants will spend four days honing their business ideas, perfecting their pitches, and showcasing their innovations during a Demo Day in front of business leaders, investors, and policymakers from around the region. The Demo Day event takes place on November 16 at 2:30 PM at the C.A.T. Science Accelerator (3A, Talabalar Street, Olmazar district, 100174, Tashkent, Uzbekistan). The keynote speaker is Lu Cordova, President of the Techstars Foundation, a global nonprofit fostering diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship.

Heath Naquin leads VentureWell Strategic Development efforts and oversees the identification and development of new opportunities and initiatives… About the author