ITU Digital World 2021 Awards open to SMEs worldwide


​​The ​International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has opened applications for its annual ITU Digital World SME Awards to promote digital innovation by small- and medium-sized enterprises around the world.

The Awards, now in their seventh edition, aim to hone SME pitching skills, showcase sustainable solutions, help make key connections, foster investment, and provide valuable United Nations recognition.

The International Telecommunications Union Logo

Open to any SME worldwide, the 2021 Awards seek out innovations related to information and communication technologies (ICTs) in five categories:
Smart cities, smart living
Digital finance
EdTech (education technology)

Like last year, the whole presentation and selection process will take place online.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch live online in front of an expert jury of investors, innovation, business and tech specialists, with winners to be announced in an online awards ceremony at the end of the year.

“Innovation is a driving force of the ICT industry, and SMEs are a huge source of innovation, jobs and economic growth,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “We all need to come together and support them in these trying times. I therefore encourage talented SMEs from across the globe to enter the ITU Digital World SME Awards and benefit from this valuable platform of knowledge sharing, networking and visibility.”

Each winner will receive UN recognition as an ICT4D (ICT for development) provider, online visibility and certificate of achievement.

In the meantime, all applicants will be invited to join the ITU Digital World SME Programme, consisting of master classes offering capacity building, skills workshops, mentorship and networking opportunities for SMEs all year long.

Simon Schwall, co-founder and CEO of OKO Finance, a winner last year, said: “Winning this award will be reassuring to the mobile operators we want to partner with, and to investors, who sometimes doubt our capacity to find key partners to allow us to scale up. This prize will also make us more credible when we go and talk to other UN organizations.”