UNESCO, IEEE Entrepreneurship conduct Regional Entrepreneurship Workshop in Panama City, Panama

Post by Dr. Surya Raghu

UNESCO, IEEE Entrepreneurship conduct Workshop in Panama City, Panama

D3Bio L to R: Bruce Anthony Jupiter, Roberto Urcuyo, Erick Fuentes M, Irene Monserrat Ayala G, JuanSe Proano, Katya Dawes

The UNESCO-IEEE Entrepreneurship workshop was conducted in Panama City, Panama from 11-15 September, 2023.  

Applicants from 10 countries – Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago participated in this team driven exercise.  

Two online sessions were held before the start of the workshop to encourage participants to develop business ideas before they arrived in Panama City.  Thirteen ideas were pitched on the first day of the workshop, and based on feedback from the organizers and judges, 7 of the ideas were chosen to be carried through for pitching on the final day of the workshop. 

Seven corresponding teams were formed and were tasked with developing their idea into market driven solution focused on one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  

These pitches included:

Agrobiolac – Innovative biofungicide

Astrobiotics – Probiotics based on natural products

NAITURE – An AI-based customer service platforms for retail industry

D3Bio – Biomass from Banana plants to bioplastics for various applications including 3-D printing material

WeatheRED – weather data solutions 

E-Steam – an educational platform for asynchronous learning

SMART Hand – a low-cost prosthetic hand

With great team work and plenty of effort put in, all the teams did an excellent job of pitching their business ideas to a panel of 4 judges on the last day.  D3Bio was judged to have done the best pitch by the panel. 

Our thanks go to the organizers Susana Lau, Thomas Monaco, Surya Raghu and Ken Stauffer from IEEE Entrepreneurship, and Juan Criado and Wen Jia from UNESCO office in Costa Rica and Indira Ashwini Madanayake and Jing Zhao from UNESCO headquarters in Paris for their excellent coordination and support, Prabakaran Murugaiah (Speaker and Mentor) and Nelida Gomez (panel moderator) for their valuable help.  Our thanks also to Deepa Sankaralingam for her help on the final day pitches.

The participants shared their feedback through an online survey and interviews.  Many participants from countries other than the host Panama expressed strong interest in having similar workshops in their home countries and efforts are under way by UNESCO to pursue such efforts with partner organizations.