Inspiring technology solutions hold the potential to change and improve lives across the globe through the drive and dedication of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Winning solutions from digital SMEs based in Hong Kong (China), Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, South Korea, and the United States were showcased and announced at the ITU Digital World Awards Ceremony, the finale of the ITU Digital World 2021 event and a key SME promotion programme from the United Nations tech agency on Wednesday.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – the UN’s specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs) – has highlighted SMEs as crucial contributors to help harness the world’s ongoing digital transformation to ensure sustainable development.
The latest ITU Digital World Awards recognized outstanding SME contributions to advance connectivity, smart cities and smart living, e-health, digital finance, and education technology.
“Innovative tech SMEs – fast-moving and responsive to the needs of different markets on the ground – have a vital role to play in accelerating digital transformation,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Governments and the ICT industry need to act together to foster a climate that supports technology and business innovation, helping companies like our award winners scale up and flourish.”
Six winners emerged this year, spanning the five key categories.
|Benefit Vantage Limited – Ipification||Connectivity||Hong Kong, China|
|URBIT GROUP LLC||Digital finance||United States of America|
|Baobabooks Education Sàrl||Education technology||Switzerland|
|Mawidy||E-health||Kingdom of Saudi Arabia|
|SCE Korea, Inc.||Smart cities, smart living||Republic of Korea|
ITU Deputy Secretary-General Malcolm Johnson recognized the winners and presented their certificates in the presence of Viet Nam’s Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Phan Tam.
This seventh edition of the Awards marked the final event of a three-month online conference and exhibition co-hosted by Viet Nam. Opening in September, ITU Digital World 2021 also marked the 50th anniversary of ITU’s flagship Telecom conference and exhibition series.
During the ceremony, a new partnership for ITU with US technology firm Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) was announced, aimed at accelerating the programme next year and equipping SMEs with access to HPE tools, networks, and mentoring.
The competition was open to all SMEs worldwide, with winning projects ranging from mobile authentication and information accessibility to connectivity for public transport, financial technology (fintech), creative writing, and healthcare powered by artificial intelligence (AI).A jury of experts, representing the fields of business, technology and entrepreneurship, selected the winners from a total of 133 eligible applicants from 53 countries.
Prepping transformative SMEs
The ITU Digital World Awards formed part of an expert-led SME Programme of online masterclasses and pitching for digital SMEs. Maintaining the virtual format, the final awards ceremony celebrated the creativity and innovation behind digital solutions meeting real-world needs.
The special masterclasses explored areas such as sustainable start-ups and SME-corporate collaboration, bidding for government procurement opportunities, customer service and innovation, e-health, designing for disability inclusion and fundraising. The SME Programme and Awards are key components of ITU Digital World 2021, which was co-hosted with the Government of Viet Nam and took place from September-December 2021.