Young entrepreneurs offer innovative solutions to urban challenges in Asia and the Pacific

Start-up entrepreneurs from around the world gathered in Seoul today to compete in the 2018 Urban Innovation Challenge: Citypreneurs Young SDGs Start-Up Competition and propose innovative solutions to critical green energy, urban mobility and social protection issues faced by many cities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), with the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Seoul Digital Foundation, World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO), the Citypreneurs competition provided the opportunity for young entrepreneurs to gain recognition and garner investment funds to turn innovations into practical solutions that help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in an urban context.

Taking the Grand Prize Seoul Mayor’s Award was Alt-A, a start-up using real time data and intelligent sensors to make human and vehicle traffic safer. First Prize UNESCAP-ENEA Director Award went to Nice Visions, a start-up using well designed tiles to generate solar energy. First Prize WeGO Secretary General’s Award went to Weave Air, a start-up using sensors and AI to measure air quality inside buildings in real time.

The Investor’s Excellence Pick Awards went to Haezoom and Flint, and the Grand Investor’s Pick Award was given to Dot Inc., a producer of accessible products for people with vision impairments to lead independent lives.

“Citypreneurs offers an opportunity for young innovators to make a real difference in achieving the SDGs in their communities through connecting innovators with investors, mentoring and sharing best practices. Together we can create and deploy solutions that will make the future more sustainable and inclusive,” said Dr. Sangmin Nam, Head a.i. of the ESCAP East and North East Asia Office.

“As the world’s population continues to move towards cities, solving urban problems becomes critical to a sustainable future. Through the participation of the various stakeholders in this challenge, we will come closer to achieving the UN sustainable development agenda and a better world for all," said Mr. Bonian Golmohammadi, Secretary General of WFUNA.

“The world is being rocked by technological developments. The socio-economic shifts taking place are causing deep uncertainties and insecurities to be felt, from policymakers to those fresh on the job market. Youth entrepreneurship can offer an innovative alternative to tackle youth unemployment, catalyze job creation, and prepare young people for an uncertain future,” said Mr. Artemy Izmestiev, Director a.i. of the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre.

“We are delighted to host the second Citypreneurs competition. With innovative ideas from promising youth entrepreneurs and consulting from local and international specialists, we can create solutions for a better Seoul city and get closer to achieving the UN SDGs. Furthermore, together we hope to provide a policy foundation for discovering and supporting innovative ideas that can enhance sustainable life in Seoul and globally,” stated Dr. Chihyung Lee, President of Seoul Digital Foundation.

“The on-going digital revolution is making our cities more intelligent, and the cities are making citizens happier. And intelligence and happiness are what Citypreneurs is all about. The multistakeholder collaboration brought about by the Citypreneurs will surely be beneficial to cities and citizens, and help us achieve our goal of making cities smarter and more sustainable”, said Mr. Kyong-yul Lee, Secretary General of WeGO.

Young people are both digitally and physically connected, constituting the most urbanized generation to date. They will also be the most impacted by urban challenges from rising inequalities to climate change. The annual Citypreneurs competition offers an innovative space for young entrepreneurs to find inspiration, share ideas and raise their voices on using new technologies to accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Moving forward, Citypreneurs seeks to localise and facilitate the adoption of these technological solutions by partnering with city governments, starting with the Seoul Metropolitan Government, to address growing urban challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.

The one-day event also brought together government officials, private investors, international organization representatives and young entrepreneurs for an interactive Policy Interface to discuss policies that strengthen the impact start-up ecosystems, with a special focus on leveraging the 4th Industrial Revolution and diversity and inclusion within innovation spaces.

For more information visit: https://www.citypreneurs.org

For media inquiries, please contact:
Ms. Charlotte Arribe, Sustainable Development Consultant, ESCAP East & North-East Asia Office, Incheon, Republic of Korea
T: (82) 32 458 6604 / E: [email protected]

Ms. Hye-Jin Park, Communications & Partnership Specialist, UNDP Seoul Policy Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea
T: (82) 2 3290 5199 / E: [email protected]

Ms. Hyunggee Choi, Junior Consultant, WFUNA Seoul Secretariat, Seoul , Republic of Korea
T: (82) 2 6925 2695 / E: [email protected]

Ms. Hyomin Choi, International Project Senior Manager, Seoul Digital Foundation, Seoul, Republic of Korea
T: (82) 2 570 4643 / E: [email protected]

Ms. Alizée Rousset, Program Officer, WeGO Secretariat, Seoul, Republic of Korea
T: (82) 2 720 2931 / E: [email protected]