The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland just held the first Global Innovation Summit for Children and Youth at the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Finland with 2 questions setting the discussions there:
- How do we get important products to a billion people?
- Which opportunities from the technology or private sector will have the biggest impact on children in the next 5 years?
The Summit was divided into many small plenary sessions over 2 days to share thoughts on how innovation will help change the world through the growth of startup ecosystems by youth in countries the world over under the theme “Startup to Scale-up”.
On education and innovation, many speakers urged the private sector to come together and work with the public sector to help them innovate some more as well in all countries.
Yoka Brandt, who is the Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of Partnerships Group at UNICEF said ‘innovations can help break the cycles of poverty and set in motion cycles of prosperity’.
Technological innovation by itself will not work, human and political networks have to scale-up solutions for children as well. Chris Fabian of UNICEF’s Innovation group said more partnerships are being formed schools in emerging countries.
On how to learn skills training, on innovation anywhere, there is a need for infrastructure, which technology hubs (e.g BongoHive in Zambia) provide, added Tayo Akinyeme, CEO of AfriLabs (a network of African tech hubs). They can offer resources to innovators such as internet access, devices to use and a network of people that startups can work with. She also encouraged more females to learn technology-based skills as currently many are hidden or can not afford to innovate, and this is where female tech hubs – like Asikana Network in Zambia – can help.
On how to create a product that would suit emerging economies, research analyst Karin Kallander from the Malaria Consortium urged innovators to make them affordable, able to withstand the harshest conditions, dust/waterproof if necessary and using low energy levels.
The Future of Connectivity was also one of the huge topics, with the assigned panel agreeing that the biggest challenges to internet access in emerging economies are a lack of it or slow speeds, high data prices and expensive gadgets. There is a need to innovate in that area seeing as mobile money, m-Health, e-Education and other mobile services are really helping the disadvantaged parts of the world.
Eun-Ju Kim, Chief – Innovation and Partnership Department in the Telecommunication Development Bureau at the ITU, added she was sure that efficient 5G technology would be present to support innovation within the next 5 years. She also asked that people be more demanding of their technology manufacturers in giving them devices they can make full use of.
Those were the highlights of Day 1 of the summit, look out for the day 2 overview. A link will be shared here.