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Seedstar Innovation Challenge

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Winner for Seedstar Challenge, TraSeable Solutions. PC: Supplied

The University of the South Pacific hosted a pitching event, where the best startups from Suva pitch competed to be crowned the most promising seed-stage startup of Seedstars Suva 2019 at the Japan-Pacific ICT Multi-Purpose Theatre on 15 August.

TraSeable Solutions was crowned the winner with its pitch on delivering value for your seafood products through trust and technology giving you an edge in the marketplace. Eco Conscience (Fiji) settled for second place with a focus on online business or eco-hub. It aspires to help the environment and raise awareness for a low waste lifestyle and third place was given to Mama Mushrooms. Mama's Mushroom's believes in empowering women entrepreneurs who can better support their families and access quality education.

The Vice Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Pal Ahluwalia acknowledged the Australian Government for continuing to fund opportunities, giving Pacific Islanders the opportunity to be seen on the global stage. He also thanked Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) for continuing to partner with USP on developing the Pacific’s finTech scene which is still very nascent.

He said the event was part of DFAT’s InnovationXchange and GSMA’s work: Ecosystem Building Events across the world and has been brought to the Pacific for the first time this year.

"This work is in line with PFIP’s mandate to support the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Fiji through capacity building and provide regional and international exposure to start-ups in Fiji,” said Prof. Ahluwalia.

"Taking into consideration its core role as the premier institution of higher education in the South Pacific region producing and disseminating new knowledge via research and innovation,  the needs of its member countries, and its current and potential capacity,  USP has identified four strategic research themes that are derived from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (2015 – 2030) and underpinned by Innovation, Empowerment & Sustainability.”

Prof. Ahluwalia added that USP has an existing partnership with the UN’s Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme aimed at enhancing the development, designing and piloting of financial and digital innovations that can be scaled up across the Pacific besides cooperation in the areas of digital financial education.

“Through this partnership, our students have been receiving on-going training to help them improve product design and helping them to develop skills that will enable them to confidently pitch their concepts to potential investors.  Two of our students also got the opportunity to travel to Malaysia to be part of the first Pacific-ASEAN Financial Innovation Challenge in May this year,” he stated.

"USP also has collaborated with UNDP to set up an Innovation Hub -and a Co-Working Space: to bring together individuals from different industries, countries and areas of expertise – people who otherwise wouldn’t know of each other. We are buildingplatform for learning, mentoring and south-south knowledge exchanges for the governments, faculty, researchers, entrepreneurs and social innovators across the Pacific region. Priority will be given to youth, women and differently abled persons.”

He emphasised that mobile technology can play a pivotal role in the digital transformation of the Pacific Islands, enabling access to life-enhancing services in areas such as health and education, while proving a catalyst for innovation and economic growth, with the promise of new jobs and increased tax revenues.

“The Pacific Islands region is seeing only modest mobile subscriber growth at a time when subscriber penetration rates remain well below regional and global developed market averages. Although 38% of the population subscribed to a mobile service as at the end of 2018, this trails the average for least developed countries (44%). Within the region, there is significant variation in the development of local mobile markets; subscriber penetration rates range from a high of 84% in Fiji to a low of just 11% in the Marshall Islands,” said Prof. Ahluwalia.

Deputy Australian High Commissioner, Anna Dorney, while launching the Seedstars Challenge Event stated that the winner will receive US $500,000 investment capital at the main Seedstars Event in Switzerland later this year.

“I understand that 15 startups have gone through an intensive two-day bootcamp featuring training and mentoring from established businesses and technology experts from the region and abroad.

“We hope these sessions have helped give those startups suitable advice on how to take their businesses to the next level,” she added.

In support of such initiatives, Ms. Dorny said that apart from growing Pacific businesses, this event is especially important as it supports the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Fiji.

“We are setting the platform to build synergies between start-ups, mobile operators and technology firms in Fiji, with the aim to scale innovative and sustainable mobile services in emerging markets,” she said.

She emphasised that the Pacific is a region brimming with technological potential and the Australia Government and its partners are here to further develop new sources of finance so that entrepreneurs have the confidence to embrace risk, innovation and become agile in the way they do business.

Ms. Dorny added that this event aligns well with Australia’s aid policy framework and our Innovation strategy, which recognises the importance of the private sector: as the source of economic growth, income and jobs; and as a partner with whom we can work to achieve faster and more sustainable development outcomes.

“We must ensure that all sectors of the ceremony are included in development especially women, youth and individuals living with disabilities,” said Ms. Dorny.

 


This news item was published on 22 Aug 2019 09:22:09 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email communications@usp.ac.fj


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