The GIST Initiative Returns to the Asia-Pacific!
Learn more about our past work and our exciting future in this dynamic region
We have some amazing news! We’re launching our latest CATALYST Pitch Competition focused on innovations which empower women–a foundational tenet for the future of global innovation. We are thrilled to share CATALYST | ASIA-PACIFIC: Advancing Women in Innovation, the next generation of pitch competition taking place in Bangkok, Thailand as we celebrate the return this year of Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Within the work and mission of the GIST Initiative, our work in the Asia-Pacific region is vital. In it, we have the unique opportunity to center and highlight global innovation in a way that gives innovators the opportunity to interface with mentorship and networks that make a difference in their region, and also have the opportunity to win life-changing grant funding that can give their innovation the spark it needs to not only benefit their home country but improve the world.
The CATALYST Program, our unique model for global pitch showcases, is a program built on making exactly this kind of impact. The GIST CATALYST Program is an annual pitch competition traditionally held at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), where world leaders and young entrepreneurs have the opportunity to share ideas that will shape the future of innovation and gain access to opportunities for even greater impact. Launched during the GES 2017 in Hyderabad, India, the competition has been repeated in 2019 at the GES in The Hague, Netherlands, the 2019 APEC summit in La Serena, Chile, and virtually in 2021 at the GIST Catalyst Virtual Pitch Competition. Catalyst has given more than 80 entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their innovations to high-impact investors, policy makers, and leaders in the U.S. private sector while competing for generous startup resources–to date, over $729K in startup funding has been awarded through this program!
Who are the past winning Catalyst innovators?
The GIST CATALYST program has been a cornerstone for the work of the GIST Initiative in Asia-Pacific. The 2019 CATALYST program coordinated with APEC during the 2019 summit in La Sirena, Chile. That competition was part of APEC’s Women in STEM events which specifically worked with startups that support women entrepreneurs, vulnerable communities, or rural communities. We saw some amazing innovation in that competition- the first place winner was Sara Dhewanto, from Indonesia. Her startup, Duithape, is an e-payment system aiming to provide clients a cashless distribution system that enables massive, safe, efficient, and accurate payments to the unbanked with high accountability through redemption of goods and services through a network of distribution points. The other winning innovators included Jackie Hind, in second place from the United States, with her startup Plumb Pharmaceuticals, which developed a patented drug delivery platform which extends drug release from 72 hours to more than 3 months compared to current delivery systems. Jessica Moldez Wu from the Philippines competed with her startup, Lesstics, which was founded to help the garbage problem in her city through recycling single-use plastics by turning them into different reusable objects such as floor tiles, insulators, Lego Bricks and more. Natalia Mykhalova of Weavair, won the Outstanding Science & Technology Prize by building the world's first device that harnesses environmental, mechanical and human metrics as well as predictive AI algorithms to manage high-value air conditioning systems, improving indoor air quality, saving energy & streamlining operations. All of the incredible innovators who participated were from teams which were women-focused or women-led, with priority to many who had overcome economic hardship or identified as a member of a vulnerable community.
What Other Events Has GIST Held in the Asia-Pacific?
The GIST Initiative’s connection and commitment to this region goes back even further, however- the year before, we were proud to host a specialized startup training for founders from 14 Asia-Pacific economies at the 2018 APEC Summit in Brisbane, Australia. At the end of the three-day training, participating teams competed in a Demo Day in front of an international audience of entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers, competing for more than $125,000 USD in startup resources. Co-founders Rafeah Mustafa Kamal and Rahinah Ibrahim of Oceanori, from Malaysia, won the first place prize in that competition with their iSTP System for Rural Coastal Settlements, a treatment plant that is one of the smallest on the market, one that is easily transportable by boat and can fit underneath the toilets of rural water-based communities while treating sewage to meet the specs of Malaysia’s National Water Services Commission. Burnflex, from the United States, won second place in developing a foam that can be quickly applied to help protect and treat burns, and Cynthia Villar, co-founder of MiBolsillo from Peru- a mobile financial app for entrepreneurs that improves financial health and access to formal financial services, won the Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur award.
The commitment of the GIST Initiative to supporting robust and resilient innovation economies in the Asia-Pacific goes beyond supporting innovators alone- we recognize the essential role of the investment community as well. That’s why Investor Training has been a key element of our work in this region, like our Investors Mobilization Training program (GIST Investors) for Malaysia in April 2019. That training brought leading global investors to train Malaysian investors on deal sourcing, conducting due diligence, and negotiating term sheets and valuations. The program equipped Malaysian investors with a sound knowledge base so they can continue to support the thriving Malaysian entrepreneurial ecosystem with the knowledge and vision to continue supporting science and technology ventures.
What Does the Future Hold for GIST in the Asia-Pacific?
All of this work reinforces the lasting commitment of the GIST Initiative to this essential region for global innovation. CATALYST | ASIA-PACIFIC 2022 may be our most impactful year yet, as we work to support APEC economies in centering a sustainable and resilient green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique role women play in that recovery, using the enormous challenges of the last two years as the catalyst for increased cooperation and a renewed vision for the role science and technology will have in the transformation and success of this exciting region. Learn more about the CATALYST 2022 competition and apply today!