Digital Bridge-2022 became the largest IT forum of the year, which brought together the countries of Central Asia

The International Forum on Digital Technology and Business Digital Bridge 2022 was held in Astana on September 28-29. The President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, and leaders of global companies, the best international and domestic IT experts, also participated in the Forum. Moreover, it became the main IT event of the year. The Forum brought together almost 25,000 participants, 300 IT companies, 150 venture capitalists and business angels, over 300 speakers, and 100 startups from 15 countries.

This year’s theme was - “Central Eurasia as a new tech platform.” The organizers were the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana Akimat, and the International Technopark of IT startups Astana Hub.

“In the near future, our country intends to become one of the largest digital hubs in Central Asia. Through the partnership with the biggest tech companies, we will train IT staff and develop human capital. It is symbolic that during the Digital Bridge days, the UN Global E-Government Development Index updated the results and became known that Kazakhstan ranked 28th in e-government development, moving up one line! Even though all countries have taken the course of digitalization, we are growing. 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,” - said the Minister of Digital Development, Innovation, and Aerospace Industry Bagdat Mussin.

Among the Forum attendees, there also were Mustafa Varank, Minister of Industry and Technology of Turkiye; Sherzod Shermatov, Minister of Information Technology and Communications of Uzbekistan; Farid Ahmadov, Deputy Minister of Digital Development and Transport of Azerbaijan; and Indira Sharshenova, Deputy Minister of Digital Development of Kyrgyzstan.

At the Digital Bridge’s panel sessions (there were 45), more than 300 speakers (diplomats, heads of leading international companies, world-renowned experts, and representatives of government agencies) discussed current trends and the most significant problems in IT innovations. They also covered such topics as 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 technologies, satellite technologies, blockchain, digital currencies, robotization, cyber security, venture investments, etc.

For two days, state agencies, large companies, international technoparks, and other organizations signed 29 memorandums and agreements on cooperation in developing IT innovations. In particular, the international tech park of IT startups Astana Hub signed 11 memorandums, including an agreement between technoparks of Turkic countries.

Thirteen technoparks from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Palestine, and Kazakhstan, participated in the exhibition of technoparks.

"I believe this platform is one of the best initiatives that unite 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, the head of the High Tech Park of Kyrgyzstan.

About 100 best Central Asian startups in Edtech, Healthtech, Agritech, and Fintech were presented at one of the main zones of Digital Bridge - Startup Alley. Also, 20 local and foreign IT companies offered about 500 vacancies at the IT Jobs Fair.

At the exhibition of IT schools, 20 IT training schools from different regions of the country presented their educational institutions to potential students. Moreover, the first ten students were presented with IT training vouchers from the Tech Orda program at Digital Bridge Forum. With the support of the Minister of Digital Development, Innovation, and Aerospace Industry, we will remind you that the Astana Hub launched the Tech Orda program, which provides funding for training qualified IT professionals in the amount of up to 600,000 tenge for each student.

During the Forum, the Demo Day was held, a joint program from Astana Hub and Google for Startups – Silkway Accelerator, where 14 startup candidates pitched their IT projects before venture capital funds, investors, and business angels.

The most exciting event of the Forum was the Astana Hub Battle contest. This year more than 250 applications were submitted for the contest, and 97 projects from various 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 $10,000 (1st place), $5,000 (2nd place), and $3,000 (3rd place) in cash checks. The winner was NBFIT, a startup from Kyrgyzstan, a fitness service that helps women take care of their health and recover from childbirth. 2nd place went to Easy Tap, a Kazakhstani online service that helps find part-time workers in retail and hospitality. 3rd place went to startup Cibionyx, a service for creating a metaverse of remote labor for blue-collar workers.

"First of all, Astana Hub Battle is an opportunity for startups to be heard,' explained Magzhan Madiev, CEO of Astana Hub. - This event traditionally gathers a large number of viewers. Besides, it is an opportunity for investors. About 150 venture investors and business angels took part in the Forum. That is why I am sure the Forum will give investors and startups the opportunities they have come for."

One of the highlights of the Forum was the cybersports tournament - Alaman Digital Bridge, with a prize fund of 2 million tenge. The tournament winner was "Wet Killers" from Kyrgyzstan.

The general sponsor of the Forum was 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.

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