A small Japanese business focused on producing an innovative, very niche product; a large established logistics firm with national reach and a long tradition, also based in Japan; and an international ICT event in Budapest, Hungary. These are the ingredients for just one of the success stories to emerge from a new awards scheme launched last year.
ITU Telecom World is a leading international tech event organized by ITU, the UN’s principal agency for ICT matters. For the past forty years, it has brought together public and private sectors, emerging and developed markets, from across the ICT ecosystem and from all corners of the world, to exhibit innovative solutions and technologies, debate the key issues shaping the industry, and network with individuals, organizations and nations.
But last year, it undertook an important change of direction. ITU Telecom World 2015, held in Budapest, Hungary, focused clearly on supporting and fostering the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and innovators in the ICT sector as key players in the industry - and key drivers of the economic growth and social development worldwide.
Flexible, adaptable, scalable and responsive, SMEs are a fundamental source of new jobs in the knowledge economy. Small, micro and local businesses are critical to ensuring economic growth that is sustainable and inclusive in both developed and emerging markets. But they also face a number of specific, ongoing challenges, from access to funding to the urgent need for human capacity building, from regulatory barriers to lack of business skills.
Drawing on the expertise, experience and connections of ITU, and its own success as a leading international networking event, ITU Telecom World is ideally positioned to bring SMEs to the table as important new stakeholders in the ICT ecosystem alongside ministers, regulators, consultants, international organizations, and CEOs from established major companies. Which is just what it did last year, with the introduction of the inaugural ITU Telecom World Awards.
The Awards are designed to recognize and reward the best in innovative SMEs using ICTs with a clear social impact – celebrating the critical role of creative ICT-based applications and initiatives in improving lives around the world. They function as a platform to highlight best practices and share ideas on innovative socio-economic development, to network with peers, government and industry, to mobilize investment and create new business opportunities.
Gaining UN recognition for your work in ICT for development, and a unique degree of international visibility before an audience of policy-makers and decision-takers, can make all the difference to an SME seeking to establish itself, to find partners, to replicate or take ideas to scale – as our small Japanese company discovered last year.
As part of the Japanese pavilion at ITU Telecom World 2015, Japan Battery Regeneration won a Recognition of Excellence within the ITU Telecom World Awards programme. Japan Battery Regeneration’s technology to regenerate lead-acid batteries simultaneously increases the availability of low-cost power (in particular in off-grid regions of developing countries) and contributes to global environmental protection by reducing waste and making the best use of limited natural resources..
As a direct result of the increased credibility and greater visibility offered by ITU endorsement, Japan Battery Regeneration was able to close a significant deal with Nittsu Shoji (part of the global transportation company Nippon Express), accelerating its progress in both domestic and international business.
In the words of the General Manager, Hiroshi Tominaga, “Winning the Award brought our company greatly increased reputation and credit - we got “treasure” from ITU in terms of its contribution to our future business growth. We have experienced excellent impact on our ongoing business discussions. We have expanded our world by taking part in ITU Telecom World!”
This is exactly what the ITU Telecom World Awards are about - providing a global launch pad for good ideas. The success of Japan Battery Regeneration and the other winners in 2015 has ensured that the ITU Telecom World Awards are back this year, as part of ITU Telecom World 2016, taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 14 – 17 November. And this year the Awards are also open to corporates and established ICT companies working with innovative projects or solutions in areas such as e-education, e-health, e-government or disaster relief and communications.
These are just some of the areas where ICTs, as the cross-cutting enabler behind socio-economic development globally, have enormous potential to transform lives for the better. And in our current emergent world where individuals, businesses, organizations and governments alike need to adapt traditional thinking and policies to focus on multi-stakeholder partnerships and community-based, grassroots approaches, it is small and medium businesses at the edge of the network which are increasingly in the driving seat.
Bringing governments, corporates and SMEs around the table together at events such as ITU Telecom World 2016 enables an open and constructive exchange of information, identifying and reducing barriers to success, developing supporting frameworks, business models and policies and working towards efficient, dynamic ICT innovation ecosystems at national or regional levels. The ITU Telecom World Awards are a critical part of that process.
ITU Telecom World 2016 takes place at the IMPACT Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, from 14 – 17 November. The ITU Telecom World Awards are open to all exhibiting and sponsoring event participants –the deadline for applications is Friday 28 October. More information at telecomworld.itu.int。