UNDP co-hosted the National Innovation Contest award ceremony to celebrate the best business ideas and projects proposed by nearly 200 applicants bidding to win in the first of a kind innovations competition in Azerbaijan that seek to accelerate achievement of sustainable development goals.
Held in partnership with the Ministry of Economy and the National Coordination Council on Sustainable Development in Azerbaijan, the Innovation Contest initiative has gained substantial support from a number of other government agencies as well. Launched earlier in October by the order of the Ministry of Economy, the contest aimed to encourage young students and faculty of national universities to submit their business proposals that focused on innovation, research and development and were aligned with the SDG vision.
Consequently, hundreds of innovative proposals from applicants across a broad spectrum of backgrounds that covered economic development, social wellbeing and environment were submitted to the Contest Commission. The applications were processed using the innovative ASAN Service Idea Bank – the newly launched state-of-the-art data collection solution designed to gather ideas and suggestions from the general public that further help tailor an improved public service delivery.
All the applications submitted for review have identified at least one sustainable development goal and offered innovative intervention strategies in response to local needs in this area.
The proposals were evaluated against economic efficiency and feasibility components. The majority of the applications have placed a greater importance on sustainable environment and the use of advanced platforms and information technology as suggested solutions to a number of development challenges.
Among the winning ideas, a project proposal on launching a mobile application that enables electronic power of attorney for vehicle transactions took the first place. The second best project offered the construction of innovative biogas stations for alternative fuelling. The third place prize winner was a project suggesting new innovative ways of producing antioxidant astaxanthin from green microalga plants known as haematococcus pluvialis.
The Innovations Contest is one of a series of joint initiatives UNDP is leading in partnership with various government stakeholders to promote greater public awareness of and interest towards sustainable development in Azerbaijan. Having long-lasting cooperation with the Government of Azerbaijan on the implementation of SDGs and the 2030 Agenda, UNDP is continuously supporting the Secretariat of the National Coordination Council on Sustainable Development (NCCSD) at the policy level, through capacity-building and advocacy.
Speaking of Azerbaijan’s demonstrated interest in achieving the Global Goals, Resident Representative of UNDP in Azerbaijan Ghulam Isaczai specifically noted a series of remarkable SDG-aligned initiatives that the Government has undertaken up to date.
"Azerbaijan was one of the first nations in the region to submit their Voluntary National Report (VNR) to the High-Level Political Forum. The country hosted a number of advocacy events on the promotion and public awareness of SDGs at the national level. Azerbaijan hosted the first United Nations Integrated Support mission for SDG Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS)," said Ghulam Isaczai.
Started as an inaugural initiative in Azerbaijan, the National Innovation Contest is envisioned to continue on an annual basis as part of the lasting advocacy strategy to promote and support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Arzu Jafarli, Communications and External Relations Analyst for UNDP in Azerbaijan, [email protected]
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