The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Derrick Armstrong

Distinguished members of the University

Representatives from the Government, civil society, regional and international organizations

Entrepreneurs and innovators

Ladies and gentlemen

Bula Vinaka to you all.

It is an honour to be part of this first-ever UNDP - USP Innovation Hub’s two-day review programme.

Since January 2019, the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, in partnership with the USP, has successfully co-operated and co-maintained this co-working space within the USP corridors, which is an Innovation Hub, essentially a Co-Working Space concept co-creating an ecosystem of innovation.

USP has been the perfect partner in hosting this ‘ecosystem of innovation,’ as it is truly a centre of gravity for learning, research and innovation in the Pacific. As the regional University, it is still in the best position to offer a working environment where people from all over the region meet, work, network, share ideas and collaborate on important development projects.

This is indeed the very concept of the Innovation Hub - to bring together like-minded individuals from different industries, countries and areas of expertise, to share common-issues and co-create solutions for the region’s most pressing challenges.

So, we are all here to achieve three main objectives:

1.  To take advantage of the opportunity to share & document success stories and challenges of the innovation hub and its users;

2.  Develop and share to the region, a Resource Mobilization Plan [RMP] which incorporates the planned activities for 2021-2022 for Fiji;

3.  Provide an Innovation Hub Review Report for submission to USP and UNDP.

This Innovation Hub has served as a platform for learning, mentoring and South-South knowledge exchanges for the governments, faculty, researchers, entrepreneurs and social innovators across the Pacific region. Priority and opportunities have been given to youth, women and differently abled persons.

UNDP and USP are confident that such a space can continue to grow and provide ample opportunities for budding innovators to learn, engage and progress in the key trends that have continued to shape the entrepreneurship ecosystem such as, the fourth industrial revolution, SDGs and social innovation, entrepreneurship education, digitization and financial inclusion, to name just a few.

UNDP’s specific service offered to the users of the space have included:

  • Hosting dedicated conversations with policymakers to strengthen the youth entrepreneurship ecosystem and youth alliance in the Pacific;
  • Support participation of over three (3) winners of the Youth Co:Lab to the Regional Youth Co:Lab Springboard program in Vietnam, in March 2019 - that took place to promote the SDG focused innovation across Asia and the Pacific;
  • Over the course of 2019 and 2020, UNDP and USP supported capacity building and personal development events through workshops, trainings and networking activities, which allowed users to directly interact with international entrepreneurs, investors and innovators; and
  • Jointly with UNDP and USP partners, we also co-hosted events to showcase the work of young social innovators in the region in ensuring that they have access to a wide array of mentors and guides to cement their ideas into concrete SDG-focused solutions, including commercially viable sustainable businesses.

There has been many boundless ideas out there waiting to get sparked and materialize, so this partnership is still very confident that this Fiji facility (and the other same in USP-RMI, USP-Tonga and USP-Vanuatu) will continue to serve as a launching pad for collaborations and experiments that otherwise would not have happened, and that will eventually attract investor capital and lead to the creation of new start-ups, products and services.

Closing remarks

I would like to recognize the untiring contribution to this noble venture by our USP partners/colleagues: Dr. Mele Paea, the Innovation and Research Development Coordinator, and the Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Derrick Armstrong - who have worked diligently with our UNDP team to bring this event forward.

I am also very thankful to all you innovation hub users, who have shown keen interest to build this ecosystem from the moment you all signed up. You are the strong positive force for innovating development in the Fiji & the Pacific & continue to be so.

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Fai’eksia.

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