CRDF Global Announces Technology Idea Competition and Innovation Portal at GIST Conference

CRDF Global held the third conference of the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative in Rabat, Morocco on June 16-17, 2011 -- the two-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's "A New Beginning" speech in Cairo. The conference highlighted the launch of two projects designed to enable and support entrepreneurship and collaboration across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

The conference brought together participants from 25 countries representing governments, universities, research foundations, private sector and NGOs. Two-day discussions focused on creating a favorable innovation environment and ways that technology entrepreneurship can be supported, grown and sustained. Participants exchanged constructive ideas on innovation policies, university-industry partnerships, business networking, mentorship and means to expand angel and venture capital networks in the region.

Prominent conference speakers included:

Ms. Cathy Campbell, President and CEO, CRDF Global

Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

Dr. Rodney Nichols, President Emeritus of New York Academy of Sciences

Mr. Ahmed Akhchichine, Minister of National Education, Higher Education, Executive Training and Scientific Research, Morocco

Mr. Carl J. Schramm, President and CEO, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (video)

Ms. Shaifali Puri, Executive Director, Scientists without Borders

Mr. Usama Fayyad, Executive Chairman, Oasis 500

Mr. Rohit Shukla, CEO, Larta Institute

Dr. Norhalilm Yunus, CEO, Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC)

Moving from the consultation to implementation stage and building upon the President Obama's vision of promoting entrepreneurship, supporting regional collaboration and nurturing innovative partnerships, CRDF Global announced the next stages of the GIST initiative, beginning with the launch of the online GIST Network.

The GIST Network is designed to be a virtual platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to build entrepreneurship skills through mentorship, resources and tools, to network and connect with other entrepreneurs and investors to advance their ideas toward commercialization. Incorporating popular social networking tools, the GIST network will also facilitate participation in business competitions, information exchange and enable access to training, education and events.

GIST Network members will have the opportunity to compete in the newly announced GIST Technology Idea Competition (GISTech-I) Competition. GISTech-I is open to individual applicants or teams of individuals who have innovative ideas that have the potential to become technology solutions to critical problems in sectors such as information and communication technologies (ICTs), energy, health, agriculture or other related areas. GISTech-I competition encourages young entrepreneurs from a wide range of countries from Middle East, North Africa and South and Central Asia to think creatively and present their idea in a two-minute video presentation. From the initial applicants, a total of 25 semi-finalists will be selected based on online peer voting by the end of November 2011. The 25 semifinalists will compete for 11 total prizes worth up to $60,000 and will be selected at a two-day GIST entrepreneurship workshop/business pitch competition/award ceremony event on Dec. 19-20, 2011 in Amman, Jordan.

"The merit-based competition will help to identify the region's brightest, new technology companies and to put forward novel solutions to economic development challenges," announced CRDF Global President and CEO Cathy Campbell during the conference. "It is our goal that GIST network will serve as an innovation platform to connect and facilitate collaboration and participation among the region's entrepreneurial and investment communities, at all levels."

In addition to these projects, plans are underway for developmental partnerships, business competitions and others. Despite the success of the initiative, the real work has only just begun.

"If innovation is to flourish," said GIST conference speaker Dr. Usama Fayyad, executive chairman, Oasis 500, "and for knowledge economies to thrive, the participants at these meetings and their nations must actively contribute to the financing, partnerships and infrastructure to move GIST forward."

More information about GIST, and the new programs, is available at For more frequent updates, be sure to connect with GIST on Facebook and Twitter @GISTInitiative.