Welcome to the GIST Asia-Pacific Series

Welcome to the GIST Asia-Pacific Series

With so many exciting events happening in this region, we need a whole page to celebrate!

April 19, 2023

Our new Asia-Pacific Series Impact Page is Here!

Welcome to a new innovation era, where creators and entrepreneurs are building incredible solutions in more places than ever before. A new generation is meeting the challenges of our time, inspired and informed by the places they come from. One region that has been at the forefront of this new energy and dynamism is the Asia-Pacific, a place where more innovators are building exciting solutions than ever before, and opportunities to make an impact are around every corner. The GIST Initiative is thrilled to build on this excitement and announce the launch of our new Asia-Pacific Series, a central digital hub for all of our past, continuing, and future work in this region. At this page, you can find information about our work in over 29 different countries, working with entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders that represent a variety of inspiring and diverse approaches to building a new innovation future in the region. You can find new and upcoming opportunities for entrepreneurs, as well as articles and content diving deep into what makes this part of the global economy so inspiring. Learn more about previous GIST innovators and stay up to date with the latest from our network of groundbreaking Innovation Hubs in this region.  

We are proud to announce the launch of this page as we simultaneously increase our focus in providing new opportunities for entrepreneurs in this region. We have launched Innovates Thailand, a new program building on our work in supporting innovators from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). With emerging programs being announced soon to support APEC and Pacific Island innovators as well, this is just the beginning of a new wave of GIST presence in this region rising to meet and empower these incredible innovators. 


Check out our new Asia-Pacific series page! 

Why Asia, Why Now

The Asia-Pacific region is brimming with young and innovative entrepreneurs eager to take on the challenges of the modern world. This region is at the forefront of some of the most important trends today, from climate change adaptation and digital transformation, to gender equity and economic justice. ASEAN countries alone account for a staggering 7% of global GDP and 9% of global GDP growth over the past decade. And with Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand leading the way, the region is set to contribute over 70% of global growth this year alone.

But the economic potential of the Asia-Pacific region is not just a short-term phenomenon. In fact, it is forecasted to continue expanding at an impressive rate over the next few decades. By 2040, the region's GDP is expected to account for 42% of world GDP, up from 37% today. And the ASEAN region, with a combined GDP of USD 3.3 trillion in 2021, is projected to more than quadruple over the next 20 years, reaching USD 13.3 trillion by 2040.

Women's economic empowerment is a vital pillar of Asia's future financial success, and an essential priority for the GIST Initiative.

Thankfully, the past few decades have seen considerable gains in women's access to labor markets in Southeast Asia. In fact, the average female labor force participation rate in the region was a remarkable 67% in 2015, surpassing the OECD average by over seven percentage points. And while the gender wage gap has decreased steadily between 2010 and 2015, there is still work to be done, as it remains significantly higher than the OECD average.

That's why it's crucial to invest in supporting women in science and technology entrepreneurship and innovation. By doing so, we can pave the way towards sustainable and equitable growth, as well as foster new and essential solutions to regional and global challenges that require women's voices.

Together, we can continue to empower women in Southeast Asia and beyond, and ensure a brighter future for all.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and global macroeconomic trends, the ASEAN region has a unique opportunity to exceed expectations and thrive in building out the future of renewable technology and climate change mitigation. For instance, several Southeast Asian countries have already taken steps towards becoming next-generation green manufacturing hubs, attracting new investment and creating new job opportunities. Green infrastructure is another area where ASEAN can unlock economic growth and create jobs, particularly by investing in renewable and energy-efficient technologies, which have nearly three times the job-creating impact of investment in fossil fuels.

All in all, the Asia-Pacific region presents an exciting and promising landscape for entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators alike. With its impressive growth potential, vast market opportunities, and a new generation of young and driven innovators, the region is poised for tremendous advances in the coming years.

Building Connections and Deepening Collaboration

The work of the GIST Initiative is just one expression of a lasting and meaningful relationship between the U.S. Department of State and the Asia-Pacific, with a deepening connection and collaboration with ASEAN and APEC.

In 2022, we celebrated 45 years of U.S.-ASEAN partner relations, and the United States has provided over $12.1 billion in development, economic, health, and security assistance to Southeast Asian allies and partners, including the members of ASEAN, since 2002. The United States has also provided over $1.4 billion in humanitarian assistance, including life-saving disaster assistance, emergency food aid, and support to refugees throughout the region.

But the United States and ASEAN benefit from more than just financial ties. We are part of a constellation of efforts as we work together to foster science and technology innovation that centers on a sustainable global future.

Learn more about some of the U.S. Department of State initiatives to foster connection and innovation in the region:

  • The U.S. strongly supports ASEAN's science, technology, and innovation development and has ongoing initiatives, such as the Science Prize for Women and the Science, Technology, and Innovation Cooperation Program.
  • The U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership's Smart Cities Business Innovation Fund invests in grassroots sustainable solutions to urban challenges that support climate action in ASEAN. Winning proposals have included an edible-grade seaweed packaging company aimed at reducing single-use plastic consumption, a company that gathers and recycles waste solar panels to reduce e-waste, and an initiative that will create community gardens in ASEAN schools!
  • Women's empowerment is a key focus, with programs like the YSEALI Leadership Academy and the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) providing leadership and entrepreneurial skills to emerging female leaders.
  • GIST CATALYST Asia-Pacific celebrated and empowered women innovators across the Pacific in 2022. We also look forward to building new opportunities for APEC innovators this coming year! APEC is an essential economic partnership, and with the U.S. serving as APEC host in 2023,  the GIST Initiative continues to build engagement with this network.

How are we fostering Asian Innovation?

The GIST Initiative has worked to support APAC innovation on multiple fronts. We are so inspired by the continual success of innovators and partners we have worked with in the region. From supporting innovators like Mark Jamer, who is working to support medical access in rural areas in the Philippines, to Nadea Nabilla, who is working to connect smallholder fishermen with electric propulsion in Indonesia, the creativity, passion, and ingenuity of these innovators continue to captivate us, and compels us to find new opportunities to empower these extraordinary founders. Their work is supported by the more than ten regional GIST Innovation Hubs, pillars of these countries' entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems. Incredible opportunities, like the inspiring talk GIST alumni and founder Jay Gajudo gave to encourage climate action in the startup community with Philippines-based IHub IDEYA MSUIIT, are just part of the daily acts of venture empowerment these organizations undertake to build the future of Asia-Pacific innovation. 
Recent programs like CATALYST Asia-Pacific, designed to empower women founders in APEC to GIST Investors in Bhutan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, are all a part of our contribution to helping work to support the entrepreneurial ecosystems in this region. 


Learn more about GIST's past work to support innovation in the Asia-Pacific. 


Don't miss any of our future work to support this extraordinary moment in this incredible place. Our newly launched Asia-Pacific Series impact page has all the information you need in one place. Applications are now open for Innovates Thailand, a transformative opportunity for science and technology entrepreneurs in Thailand. It is an 8-week program of accelerated, intensive training for startups working to take the next step in their ventures, where they will have the opportunity to interface with leading American venture development expertise and foster deeper American and Thai investment, collaboration, and connection. This is just the beginning of a new wave of GIST Asia-Pacific programming, with APEC and Pacific Islands-focused opportunities on the way. So be the first to know by signing up for the GIST newsletter

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