By Eddie Custovic
For the third year in a row, we have delivered a unique event in Bosnia & Herzegovina under the banner of the IEEE, the world’s largest professional organisation. The concept of IEEE Innovation Nation was something I launched with my colleagues in 2016 to combat high youth unemployment in low GDP countries where IEEE had a reasonably strong presence. See more here: https://entrepreneurship.ieee.org/ieee-innovation-nation/
The first iteration of our congress in 2016 focused heavily on building the foundations of design thinking for engineers, computer scientists and technologists. We believed that this methodology would drive new discoveries and accelerate the development of innovative products and services. Over a dozen teams participated from eight universities, working closely with their mentors to prepare innovative solutions. We wanted to inspire young people to think about self-employment as a career option and knew we were starting from scratch, see more: https://entrepreneurship.ieee.org/2018_08_22_ieee-institute-changing-mind-sets-ieee-student-young-professionals-congress/
These were presented at the IEEE Student & Young Professional Congress in front of an audience of students, young professionals, academics and industry experts. We brought in numerous internationally recognised experts, company founders, investors and influencers to inspire young innovators. We managed to create a movement, creating cross ethnic relationships that still endure. You can read more about the event results here: https://entrepreneurship.ieee.org/2018_08_22_ieee-institute-wireless-portable-projector-wins-innovation-hackathon-ieee-student-young-professional-congress/
In 2017, we returned with Innovation Nation 2.0, partnering up with the Youth Employment Project to complement the design thinking methodology with a strong grounding in business plan development and product/service market evaluation. Students worked for more than 6 months , developing their concepts and presenting them with a much stronger business awareness than those in 2016. Their innovations were presented at the second Innovation Nation “Student & Young Professional Congress”. This event brought together more than 450 individuals. 200 university students from every major \engineering university in the Bosnia and Herzegovina area, 180 high school students from all over the country, over 50 industry professionals from both global and local companies, professors, teachers and everyday citizens attended. More details about the congress can be found here: https://entrepreneurship.ieee.org/2017_12_18_ieee-innovation-nation-inspires-students-young-professionals-bosnia-herzegovina/
Based on this relationship we developed the Innovation Nation model which we still utilise today (read more here: https://entrepreneurship.ieee.org/2018_08_22_ieee-institute-ieee-will-leverage-entrepreneurship-engage-young-professionals/)
In 2018, in our third year of Innovation Nation in Bosnia & Herzegovina, hosted by Sarajevo School of Science at Technology, we switched our focus on domestic talent and start-ups, companies from Bosnia & Herzegovina who has already made an impact on the global market place. The purpose of this was to demonstrate that it was indeed possible to successfully scale a start-up/company from the country and to utilise these success stories as a way of inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. Under the co-brand name “Made in Bosnia & Herzegovina”. Furthermore, the congress and innovation nation became a major event in the newly established “Engineering Week in Bosnia & Herzegovina”. While there were numerous inspirational presentations there were also a large number of startup’s presented:
- Goody.ba – Shahriyar Mohammadi, Founder & CEO – Goody is a free smartphone app that allows its users to win valuable gifts or discounts in categories of gaming, fashion, food, beauty, lifestyle, and electronics.
- Ant Colony (https://antcolony.io/) Faik Ćatibušić, Co-Founder & CTO – A very unique startup incubator based of the concept of how an ant colony operates. The company is a product oriented software company that helps entrepreneurs and bold inspired people build products through innovation. There are dozen plus companies within (https://antcolony.io/projects)
- Lilium Digital – Semir Musić, Co-Founder – Lilium is a specialised digital marketing, social media and web optimisation company that now employs over 20.
- Emin Šehić, Co-Founder at FeelTheSpace presented the startup which we reported on at the first innovation nation congress.
- Semir Šakanović, Founder & CEO at Habeetat – Beehive with digital eyes and ears that works! Habeetat allows users to monitor and track their beehive conditions, critical to bee’s “well being” and optimal honey production. (https://v2.habeetat.io/)
- Abdulmelik Pehlić, Co-Founder & CEO at Whoopedu (http://whoopedu.com/) – A mobile education app that gives huge importance to creativity, interactivity and logic and also provides number of features including voice over and localization, which is assisting with education of kids with special needs, namely kids with visual impairments and kids with refugee backgrounds.
- Faruk Mustafić, Co-Founder & CTO at DynamicaSoft – A software company focusing on cryptocurrency payments.
- Sanda Šljivo – Jumping form the Old Bridge in Virtual Reality
- Haris Muharemović, Founder at http://Queue.ba – Claimed to be the first truly digital jukebox, allowing users at restaurants, cafes and other popular meeting places to control music in the 21st century.
In addition to the above mentioned 4 cross continental innovations were presented by La Trobe University students
2018 will also be remembered as the first international expansion of the IEEE Innovation Nation Concept. My team and I decided that in order to globally start scaling the model we developed, we would need to involve others. As such as we connected with Subodha Charles, a PhD candidate at the University of Florida who up until a few years ago was a Sri Lanka resident and entrepreneur. From the 28th-30th Dec, Innovation Nation will inspire many in Sri Lanka. We can’t wait to see what products and services entrepreneurs will present at this gathering!