ITU Selects 17 Global Centers to Drive Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship

ITU’s Network of Acceleration Centers to boost digital transformation, innovation, and entrepreneurship for global development.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has selected 17 centers from around the world to join its new flagship Network of Acceleration Centers – one of the primary vehicles of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Alliance for Digital Development.

The Acceleration Centers will drive digital transformation through a unique ecosystem-thinking approach, and enhance capabilities to boost innovation, entrepreneurship, and the digitalization of economies.

The Acceleration Centers will deliver on the objectives of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Alliance for Digital Development to help countries build critical local enablers to bridge the digital innovation gap and empower ITU membership to overcome challenges in navigating our changing digital environment.

The Network of Acceleration Centers will equip countries to take well-thought out and concrete action to unlock innovation for sustainable digital transformation. I look forward to working with the selected Centers. They will help stakeholders to innovate and develop new, more resilient, and forward-thinking approaches to navigate today’s digital world and build our digital future.

Cosmas Zavazava, Director, ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT)

The Network will enhance national, regional, and global innovation capabilities for technology, policy, and flagship initiative development.

Each Acceleration Center will focus on up to five strategic objectives:

  • Trends research readiness – Enables stakeholders to be ahead of the curve and make sense of the evolution of technology, policy, and innovation dynamics.
  • Open technology innovation – Harnesses technological know-how into global goods through open innovation and multistakeholder mechanisms, accelerating access to emerging technology for all.
  • Entrepreneurship and SMEs growth – Accelerates the uptake of digital innovation-driven entrepreneurship and opportunities for talent to achieve socio-economic inclusion in their communities.
  • Policy experimentation – Develops agile policies that provide stakeholders with safe space for experimentation, encouraging innovation and attracting investment in the digital ecosystem.
  • Ecosystem initiatives acceleration – Promotes collaboration and synergies that scale digital innovations and achieve cross-cutting sectoral value for a competitive digital economy.

By helping to bridge the Digital Innovation Divide, the selected Centers will support ITU’s development priorities and empower ITU’s members to overcome challenges on their path through digital transformation.

44 applications to join the Network from 35 countries were received. These selected Centers were chosen following a comprehensive selection criteria and assessment process, including vision and strategy, scope, governance system, capabilities, and resources available. The Centers are expected to be operational from early 2024, with a view to scale-up impact in one to three years.

The selection of the Network of Acceleration Centers concludes the first step of establishing the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Alliance for Digital Development.

The Alliance, launched in January 2023, was established to respond to significant unmet needs of ITU Membership in the area of innovation, as articulated in the Kigali Action Plan adopted at the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2022 (WTDC-22) and the Outcomes of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2022 (PP-22).

The next steps will include the appointment of the Alliance Board and the finalization of the Digital Transformational Lab.

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