GIST 2021: Year in Review

GIST 2021: Year in Review

Join us as we take a look back at 2021, a year of meeting challenges and finding new opportunities.

January 6, 2022



2021 has been a year of challenges and discovery, of resiliency and growth, for the entire GIST community. In navigating another year of a closed world, we have forged new bonds and new strategies for connection. We have been so inspired by the work of innovators the world over who are steadfastly committed to creating far-reaching solutions that will make every decade better than the last. The close of this year is a meaningful time of reflection for all of us here at GIST as we celebrate a decade of development and growth. This year has driven us to think about our journey here, and most importantly, where we are going. We couldn’t have accomplished any of our work without the vision of our amazing community, our global network of entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers, and the foundation of our team and the thought-leadership of the U.S Department of State. As we celebrate and reflect on the close of this year and decade and the beginning of the next, we could not be more proud of our entire GIST family, and look forward to all that we will accomplish in the years to come, together.

Read the story or download the PDF.





Innovates Bhutan 

Thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative, iHub Bhutan, the Loden Foundation, and the Bhutan Foundation, 30 Bhutanese innovators began work towards realizing their dreams of starting and scaling their businesses. GIST Innovates Bhutan was a 10-week, accelerated online training program using the Lean Startup methodology, a structure for quickly developing a viable product and creating sustainable business development. The GIST Investors - Bhutan program launched in collaboration with the Angel Capital Association (ACA) Angel University on September 14, 2021. 16 Bhutanese investors, government employees, representatives of entrepreneurial support institutions, and representatives from financial institutions registered for the program.



Innovates Ukraine 

The GIST Innovates Ukraine initiative seeks to increase the role of science and technology (S&T) innovation to promote economic growth and to expand technology commercialization activities across Ukraine. Building on our past successes of the previous year, the second cohort of GIST Innovates Ukraine completed 10 weeks of programming. The program began on June 2, 2021 and ended on August 4, 2021. with 19 teams successfully completing all 10 weeks of the program. As follow-up programming, 8 teams (2 teams from 2020 and 6 teams from 2021) were chosen to receive Advanced Innovation Mentoring and Support (AIMS) - 8 weekly one-hour sessions of personalized one-on-one mentoring from GIST Innovates instructors and mentors. The AIMS program kicked off on September 13 and ran through November 9.




In an event that spanned nearly every region of the globe, GIST conducted the first ever virtual edition of its Catalyst Pitch Competition. In its ongoing goal to highlight and empower both individual innovators and the entrepreneurial ecosystems that support them, GIST selected 25 innovators from the hundreds of prospective participants to pitch their solutions live in front of global audiences.

Our first-place and Outstanding Women Entrepreneur award-winner was Selen Şenal, of ALGBIO, representing the European region with her venture from Turkey. Her venture treats industrial wastewater and flue gases with microalgae and produces carbon negative biofuels and algal bioplastic from these wastes.

Our second-place winner was Mark Musinguzi of Hya Bioplastics, Uganda; his venture uses cassava starch and pulped fibers from banana pseudo stem to create biobased food packaging, and in third-place was Ayman Sabae of iCheck, from Egypt, a service that integrates technology, management and clinical expertise in a way that bridges the geographical and logistical barriers restricting the provision of eye health appointments from those who need it.

The winner of both the Spirit of GIST and People’s Choice awards was finalist Jay Arneil Gajudo, of Galansiyang Inc. in the Philippines. Galansiyang is a forestry support services startup that aims to help the mining industry speed up the process of mine rehabilitation by providing them with drone and IoT technology to automate forestry, including aerial seeding for reforestation and forest monitoring. Accomplishing an event like this virtually was a new frontier for GIST programs, and while challenging, presents a new opportunity for global engagement moving forward.



Themes We've Explored

Maximizing Mentorship

Mentorship matters, and can be a key factor in helping ventures and innovators thrive. Learn how to make the most of mentorship with our resources from this year. 


The New Normal

This has been a year of extraordinary challenges, as well as new opportunities. Innovators are finding new ways to build community, and we're here to help. 


DeepTech describes an exciting new wave of innovation; keep up with the cutting edge. 


Growing the Future

From our work in Bhutan to networks in Africa, GIST innovators are using AgTech to build a greener, more just future. 



Innovation in Eastern Europe & The Balkans

GIST is proud to support the work of an incredible generation of young founders from Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Learn about our work in this exciting region: 

Thank you for a Great Year!

We have had an exciting 2021, and we are looking forward to having an even better 2022!

Follow along as we host our next Innovates cohort, organize GIST MasterClasses, and catalyze new Mentor Matching opportunities, as well as future competitions and our latest Business Incubation cohort. 



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