GIST's 2023 Year-In-Review

GIST's 2023 Year-In-Review

This year, global innovation came to life- Learn more about what made this an extraordinary year!

January 28, 2024

Welcome to the 2023 GIST Year-In-Review, celebrating a year of limitless possibilities and boundless innovation! As we step into the future, the GIST Initiative extends a warm welcome to all visionaries, pioneers, and changemakers ready to embark on a journey of transformative impact. In this era of unprecedented challenges, we recognize the pivotal role that global science and technology entrepreneurship plays in shaping a brighter tomorrow. As advocates for building this progress across the world, we celebrate the power of innovative solutions that emerge from the intersection of diverse minds and cutting-edge advancements, with the entrepreneurial support innovators need to bring their vision to life. 

This support has ranged from redefining what a pitch competition can be with APEC Catalyst, or hosting our longest Business Incubation program ever with over 6 months of support for Ukrainian innovators, to specialized trainings in regions as diverse as the Balkans to the Pacific Islands. 

Together, we can harness the spirit of collaboration and ingenuity to address the world's most pressing issues. 

This year, we remained committed to fostering an environment where ideas flourish, breakthroughs abound, and impact resonates globally. As a cooperative partnership between the U.S. Department of State and numerous private enterprises–plus our amazing global community of entrepreneurs and changemakers–we took our mission of empowering early-stage global science and technology innovators to the next level.

Here's to a year of groundbreaking advancements, collaborative endeavors, and a shared commitment to building a future where technology meets ingenuity to solve the grand challenges of our time. 

Let’s Celebrate a Year of Innovation! 

A Year of Transformative Programs Brought The Spirit of Innovation Across The Globe!


In 2023, in the face of grave challenges facing the region, the GIST initiative launched the Business Incubation Ukraine program, designed to empower Ukrainian tech innovators. Responding to an open call, founders from diverse sectors embarked on an unprecedented six-month U.S. journey. Settling temporarily in cities like Tucson and Phoenix, they immersed themselves in dynamic ecosystems, forging life-changing connections and relationships.

This extended stay, five times longer than previous GIST programs, allowed deep integration into local cultures. The entrepreneurs, integral parts of their host communities, described overwhelmingly positive experiences, with noteworthy segments including a demo-day in Washington, D.C. featuring high-level government meetings and attending the SelectUSA Investment Summit.

As the program concluded, Ukrainian innovators looked forward, viewing their GIST Business Incubation experience as a catalyst for future successes. Some have already witnessed new opportunities sprouting from their U.S. experience. In the face of adversity, these entrepreneurs have not just weathered the storm but emerged stronger, with the support of global collaboration fostering hope and innovation in the most challenging of times.

Learn more about this program: 

Ukraine's Science and Technology Stars

Ukrainian and American Innovation, United 


Born out of a need to take our Startup Trainings program virtual, ‘GIST Innovates’ is a multi-week, in-person/virtual hybrid training program focusing on pre-accelerator stage innovations and is modeled after the Lean Startup methodology. Through an in-depth customer discovery process, early-stage entrepreneurs identify and evaluate opportunities for their venture and make informed decisions on how best to move their idea forward. GIST Innovates provides participants with the training, mentoring, and resources they need to build their entrepreneurial skills and bring their ideas out of the university lab and into the market. This year, we were proud to host two incredible cohorts, in two entirely different regions of the world, yet which share a dynamic, young new generation of innovators who are eager to transform the world- We were there to help! 

Innovates Thailand

In the heart of Thailand, GIST Innovates sparked a transformative 8-week journey for science and tech innovators. This I-Corps-style program united Thai and Vietnamese ventures with American experts, creating cross-border connections.

From rural durian tech to carbon accounting platforms, the program embraced diverse innovators. Its mission: empower dynamic teams to understand customers and refine business models.

To accomplish this, participants dived into a six-week virtual program, guided by the Lean Startup framework and mentored by experts. The journey climaxed with two in-person workshops in Bangkok, featuring immersive sessions and a grand finale where entrepreneurs showcased their pivots. GIST Innovates Thailand has helped sow the seeds for a future where science and technology entrepreneurs in Thailand continue to thrive, armed with newfound knowledge, mentorship, and a network that extends beyond geographical boundaries. The journey may have ended, but the impact of these eight weeks will resonate for years to come.


Learn More About this Program 


Innovates The Balkans


Thirteen extraordinary innovation teams from across the Balkans embarked on a transformative 10-week journey, guided by an industry-leading Lean Startup curriculum crafted by the experts at Arizona State University's Melikian Center, J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, and Colleges of Engineering and Health Solutions. This initiative is more than just a training program; it's a beacon of empowerment for the dynamic Balkan region. GIST Innovates: The Balkans leverages deep relationships with GIST's Innovation Hub network, strategic program partners, and industry leaders like ICKosovo to connect founders with vital resources for success.

Kicking off at Innovation Center Kosovo, the program unfolded with I-Corps workshops where teams delved into critical venture development concepts, from customer discovery to business model canvas creation. Armed with a Lean Startup curriculum, these founders were set to refine their skills over the coming weeks, all while establishing connections with U.S. experts and investors.

Over 10 weeks of intensive training followed, being paired with a U.S.-based mentor bringing relevant expertise to guide them through the process of customer discovery in the U.S. market. This mentorship component adds a personalized touch to the program, ensuring that teams receive tailored guidance as they navigate the complexities of venture development. This transformative journey brought exciting opportunities, including the chance to bring their innovations to America, culminating in the chance to pitch on a global stage at the December 2023 Venture Devils Demo Day at ASU in Greater Phoenix, AZ.

Learn More About this Program


One part informative, one part inspirational, GIST Masterclass can give a fledgling founder the knowledge and courage to get their venture started. We address the challenges faced by first-time entrepreneurs through this one-day event, which provides foundational elements crucial for early-stage ventures. 

Our latest was held at the Symposium on Accelerating Science, Technology, and Circular Innovation in Southeast Asia in Jakarta, Indonesia, the MasterClass, led by venture development expert C’pher Gresham, and covered several critical insights for entrepreneurial journeys.

Focusing on the significance of product-market fit, the workshop emphasized the importance of proper customer discovery to validate solutions and build empathy with prospective customers, and stressed the importance of diving deep into customer discovery, having actual conversations with real people about their "pain points," and letting them test your MVP- That it's not just about surveys; it's about being in the trenches, soaking in their stories, and building the empathy that’s crucial to a meaningful solution. 

We were proud to bring this exciting program to Indonesia and directly support the extraordinary innovation community growing there! 

Learn More About this Program: 

MasterClass Brings Critical Learnings to ASEAN Innovators 


In a new groundbreaking event, the GIST Startup Training & Investment Forum: Pacific Islands sparked a vibrant convergence of innovators, investors, and experts, propelling science and technology entrepreneurship in this exciting region! This dynamic four-day program marked a giant leap in reaching an underinvested area, one disproportionately impacted by global climate change. It was driven with the contagious energy of a community dedicated to utilizing science and technology to build a more vibrant and sustainable Pacific future.

It consisted of the Startup Training Program, tailored to empower young science and technology innovators, immersed participants in the Lean Startup process and equipped innovators with skills to craft and optimize products and services. 

Simultaneously, the GIST Investment Forum brought regional investors and U.S. experts together to explore early-stage startup investment principles tailored to the Pacific Islands. This collaborative platform facilitated interactions between investors and innovators, emphasizing the transformative potential of impact investment for regional economic growth. 

The event seamlessly bridged startups and investors, resulting in immediate investment offers for at least two teams. Beyond funding, participants forged valuable network connections that will continue to foster an innovation culture. GIST Pacific Islands was an amazing new effort for our initiative. Connections made, knowledge shared, and investments secured during the event are poised to elevate Pacific Island innovation to new heights. This success testifies to the potential and talent the Pacific Islands offer the world, paving the way for a brighter, more innovative future in this critical region. 

Learn More About Innovation in the Pacific Islands! 

A New Era of Innovation

Training the Next Generation

Igniting a Tech Future


The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum serves as a pivotal platform for economic exchange, impacting nearly 3 billion people across the region. This year, we were proud to host the APEC Catalyst Pitch Competition in San Francisco, uniting sixteen visionary female founders from across APEC economies. 

Focused on empowering women founders using science and technology for climate innovation, this program facilitated a week of learning, exploration, and exchange. The unique Catalyst program model blends training with a pitch competition, emphasizing practical skills and real-world application. Throughout the training, participants challenged assumptions, refined strategies, and culminated their experiences in a pitch semifinal. A dedicated day addressed critical issues like sexual exploitation and online bullying, fostering meaningful dialogue and working to build a more equitable future for the innovation community around the world. 

The program included extraordinary opportunities for networking, connection, and growth-from a visit to NVIDIA HQ, where they learned about the future of emerging technologies like AI, to interfacing with US Department of State leadership. 

The grand finale took place at the Sustainable Future Forum, hosted by NCAPEC, where the innovators continued to be able to network with global industry leaders and more, share their own vision for the future of sustainable innovation, showcasing  transformative innovations in fields as diverse as insect farming, aquaculture, AI-powered food systems, and more. 

Beyond a pitch competition, this week symbolized a transformative journey for these women, equipped with a toolkit for the evolving business landscape. As we celebrate their achievements, the impact of this initiative promises to shape industries and inspire future leaders in science, technology, and entrepreneurship, propelling us toward a future where diversity, innovation, and sustainability are pillars of progress worldwide.


Learn More About this Program and the Importance of Women-Led Climate Innovation: 

Why Women Need to Be at the Center of Climate Innovation

CATALYST Announces Semifinalists

CATALYST: Opening Doors, Creating Impact 


Welcoming the New Year, Together!

From the entire GIST team, thank you for joining us for this extraordinary year-

The next year is sure to bring even more exciting opportunities, and we can't wait to share what's next!


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Where We've Been

Take a Look at Past Years

Every year since our inception, we've worked to grow to reach innovators around the world, creating new programs and approaches to meet new challenges, changing needs, and enormous opportunities. Take a look at where we've been: 


GIST 2022: Global Innovation Ignites 


GIST 2021: Celebrating 10 Years of Global Innovation 


GIST 2020:  New Approaches to Allow Global Entrepreneurship to Survive, and Thrive, in the COVID-Era 


GIST 2019: Amplifying Global Impact

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