The International Forum on Digital Technology and Business Digital Bridge 2022 was held in Astana on September 28-29 with the participation of the President of Kazakhstan, leaders of global companies, and the best international and domestic experts in the field of IT innovations, consolidating its status as the main IT event of the year.
The Forum brought together nearly 25,000 participants, 300 IT companies, 150 venture capitalists and business angels, over 300 speakers, and 100 startups from 15 countries.
The theme of this year's forum was "Central Eurasia as a new technological platform”. It was organized by the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana Akimat, and Astana Hub International Technopark of IT startups.
Running even faster
In his speech at the forum, Bagdat Mussin, Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace (MDDIA) Industry noted that Kazakhstan intends to become one of the largest digital hubs in Central Asia in the near future.
"We will develop our human potential by nurturing and training our IT staff in partnership with major tech companies. It is symbolic that during the Digital Bridge days, the results of the updated UN Global E-Government Development Index rating became known. Kazakhstan ranked 28th in e-government development, moving up one line! This means that we are growing, despite the fact that all countries have taken the course of digitalization," the minister said.
They say that to stay at the same level you need to run like everyone else, to grow you need to run faster. So, we manage to be ahead of more than 130 countries in digital development and remain in the top 30.
The forum was also attended by Mustafa Varank, Minister of Industry and Technology of Turkey, Sherzod Shermatov, Minister of Information Technologies and Communications Development of Uzbekistan, Farid Ahmadov, Deputy Minister of Digital Development and Transport of Azerbaijan, and Indira Sharshenova, Deputy Minister of Digital Development of Kyrgyzstan.
Panel sessions: everything IT and more
More than 300 speakers - leading diplomats, heads of top international companies, world-renowned experts, and state agencies - participated in 45 panel sessions Digital Bridge-2022. The sessions covered a broad list of topics including the digital transformation of various industries, artificial intelligence, cloud services, GovTech development, broadband Internet access, 5G, personal data protection, crypto industry, digital mining, spatial data, remote sensing technology, satellite technology, blockchain, digital currencies, robotization, cyber security, and venture capital investment.
In two days, 29 memorandums and agreements on cooperation in the field of IT innovation development were signed by state agencies, large companies, international technoparks, and other organizations. In particular, Astana Hub signed 11 memorandums, including the agreement among technoparks of the Turkic countries.
Thirteen technoparks from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Palestine and Kazakhstan participated in the exhibition of technoparks.
"I believe that this platform is one of the best initiatives that brings together the countries of Central Asia. For the global market, our countries are very small, but together as Turkic-speaking countries, we can reach a higher level," said Chubak Temirov, director of the High Tech Park of Kyrgyzstan.
The Startup Alley: bustling networking
More than 100 of the best Central Asian projects in the area of Edtech, Healthtech, Agritech, Fintech were presented at one of the main zones of the Digital Bridge - the Startup Alley. The forum’s IT Job Fair offered nearly 500 vacancies from 20 local and foreign IT companies in the sphere of information technologies, data science, blockchain, and others.
The exhibition of IT schools at Digital Bridge hosted 20 schools from different regions of the country giving presentations to potential students. Also, at Digital Bridge, the first ten students were awarded vouchers for studies in IT specialities as part of the Tech Orda program. Last year, Astana Hub with the support of MDDIA launched the Tech Orda program, which provides funding for the education of qualified IT specialists in the amount of up to 600 000 tenge [nearly $1200] for each student.
Demo Day of joint Astana Hub and Google for Startups program Silkway Accelerator was also held during the Forum, where 14 startups-participants pitched their IT projects to venture funds, investors, and business angels.
Astana Hub Battle
The most exciting event of the forum was Astana Hub Battle. This year more than 250 applications were submitted for the contest and 97 projects from different countries of Central Asia were admitted to the presentation on the Digital Bridge 2022. Ten of them made it to the finals and competed for the prize money of $10,000 (1st place), $5,000 (2nd place), and $3,000 (3rd place).
NBFIT, a startup from Kyrgyzstan, won the Battle with a fitness service that helps women take care of their health and recover from childbirth. Second place went to Easy Tap, a Kazakhstani online service for booking part-time workers in the retail and hospitality business. Third place went to startup Cibionyx, a remote labor meta-unit service for blue-collar workers.
"First and foremost, Astana Hub Battle is an opportunity for startups to be heard," explained Magzhan Madiev, General Director of Astana Hub.
It has become a tradition for this event to gather a huge audience. Besides, it is an opportunity for investors. About 150 active venture investors and business angels took part in the forum. That is why I am sure that the forum will give both investors and start-ups the opportunities which they have come for.
One of the main innovations of the forum was the Alaman Digital Bridge cybersports tournament with a prize fund of 2 million tenge. The winner of the tournament was the team from Kyrgyzstan called "Wet Killers".
The general sponsor of the forum was Kaspi.kz. Sponsors and partners - Kazakhtelecom, Freedom bank, Tengizchevroil, My Car, Tech culture, Huawei, G42, Halyk Bank, Prime source, Glovo, SF, Leica, BI Group, OneWeb, Citix, Global nomads.