CGIAR convened key players to engage in an open conversation about technological entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan
Tashkent (Uzbekistan), 2 December 2022 – On 1 December 2022, CGIAR centers ICARDA, IFPRI, IWMI, and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT with the support of the CGIAR Accelerate for Impact Platform, and in collaboration with StartupFactory hosted ‘The Consultation Workshop: Deep Diving into the Agri and Climate Tech Innovation Ecosystem in Uzbekistan’. The event was organized in the context of the CGIAR Research Initiative ‘From Fragility to Resilience in Central and West Asia and North Africa’ (F2R-CWANA) seeking to respond to the climate, nutrition, and agricultural challenges most affecting the CWANA region. Activities are focused on accelerating and scaling innovations and digital tools that can improve the climate resilience of the countries’ agriculture sectors and food value chains.
The workshop was attended by more than 60 participants, representing 40+ ecosystem players, including venture funds, accelerators, incubators, agri-food companies, universities, farmer organizations, start-ups, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Innovative Development, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Water Resources.
The Consultation Workshop was instrumental to connect with the innovation ecosystem’s stakeholders operating in the agri-food tech space and foster a conversation about the country’s agribusiness sector, challenges hindering the scale up of start-ups, and opportunities for innovation. The feedback collected also served to identify the major priority areas affecting the technology end-users and inform the objectives of the upcoming Innovation Challenge in 2023. The call for innovative solutions will target and accelerate the best early-stage agri-food and climate-tech solutions that can contribute towards the productivity, efficiency, climate adaptation and sustainability of the agriculture sector in Uzbekistan.
Since 2016, the Government of Uzbekistan has shown strong political commitment towards the innovative development of the country by implementing strategies and support mechanisms to nurture an innovation culture.
In 2017, Uzbekistan launched its first ‘Strategy of Innovative Development 2017-2021’, setting out a comprehensive political reform to create an open economy and support the development of human capital as the major factor determining country competitiveness.
The new Government recognized the importance of supporting entrepreneurial ideas, technologies, and solutions as well as creating opportunities for start-ups that could positively contribute towards the country’s economic growth.
The establishment of the Ministry of Innovative Development in 2017 was a concrete action aimed at creating an enabling environment to support an emerging ecosystem of entrepreneurs and offer start-ups opportunities to accelerate innovation-driven growth in sectors including food processing, textile, construction, and IT.
During the breakout sessions, participants discussed the need for a supportive nexus of research and entrepreneurship, current barriers, and enablers for linking the emerging innovation ecosystem with demand. Some of the key challenges which were identified by the participants were: lack of access to investments and data related to innovations, and end-users' limited awareness of innovations. It was highlighted that the agriculture sector of Uzbekistan has become the main object of the ongoing reforms in the country that is committed to integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals in its strategies, acknowledging the sustainable use of natural resources, and implementing effective preventative measures against environment-related health hazards, particularly against water shortages.
Over the past few years, the country's ambition to transform its agriculture sector has translated into multiple governmental decisions and legislation. In particular, the 'Strategy for the Development of Agriculture for the period of 2020-2030’ was adopted to reduce the role of the state in the management of the agriculture sphere, increase investment attractiveness, and bolster climate change adaption and mitigation efforts through the efficient use of resources.
In the upcoming months, CGIAR centers will continue building collaborations, in preparation of the launch of the Innovation Challenge for agri-food and climate tech solutions, that can act as a catalyst to unlock private investment for the innovation ecosystem in Uzbekistan as well as shed light on the need to foster effective linkages between research, technology, and entrepreneurship to create a supportive ecosystem for innovations.
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