Ethiopia, a nation with 70% of its population below the age of 30 has a huge potential for innovation to drive its development given the enabling environment. UNDP is partnering with Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MiNT), the Embassy of Israel and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA)to create such an environment to promote the culture of innovation in Ethiopia.

A two days ‘Innovation for Development’ workshop was organized that brought together different players to discuss the innovation landscape, assessment of the existing ecosystem and cooperation between the private sector and public sector in building the innovation ecosystem for economic transformation and move the country forward.  

The workshop also helped participants to learn from the experience of the nation of Israel known for its success of using innovation to create jobs and accelerate start-ups that resulted in socio-economic transformation. Participants were able to learn how Israel’s policy, regulatory framework and government initiatives fostered innovation and what challenges and opportunities exists for Ethiopia in developing a healthy ecosystem that encourages innovation.

Speaking at the event, UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Turhan Saleh, talked about how UNDP’s Accelerator Lab initiative, piloted in 60 countries around the world, will facilitate innovative solutions to address 21st development challenges in Ethiopia and beyond. “These labs are part of our effort to inject innovation into our organizational DNA. UNDP is combining the agility of labs to identify existing community knowledge and exploring new approaches of innovation for scaling up and engaging the private sector to achieve inclusive sustainable development by 2030,” underlined Mr. Turhan.

Israel Ambassador to Ethiopia, His Excellency Raphael Morav said, “Investment, proactive and risk-taking government are the right ingredients to develop a nation’s innovation ecosystem.” Israel as a nation invests a lot on research and development and incentivizes multinational corporations to invest in the country.

While presenting some of the existing initiatives the government of Ethiopia is taking to support the innovation ecosystem, Dr. Abraham Debebe, Director General of Innovation Development and Research Affairs from MiNT, highlighted promoting indigenous knowledge, investing in incubation centers, facilitating access to finance, networking and access to work spaces including science café and incubation hubs. 

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