Influencers from around the world were in Astana on Monday to attend a one-day international innovation forum headlined as “Digital Bridge,” leading up to the launch of a technology park in Kazakhstan’s capital city later in the week.
“We are here to help Kazakhstan develop the sphere of IT-technologies. Our mission is to share our experience and help Kazakhstan to develop this area as Kazakhstan has a very good potential,” Jean Francois Gautier, founder and CEO of Startup Genome, said Monday, according to Kazinform.
Global technology issues came into the spotlight in Astana, as entrepreneurs met to collaborate and seek ways to provide assistance to small- and medium-sized business owners. Attendees of the forum included Dirk Ahlborn, a co-founder and CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies; Jeff Hoffman, a co-founder of the Priceline Group (Booking Holdings); and Bob Dorf, an entrepreneur and co-author of The Startup Owner’s Manual.
“Excited to be in Astana to join 1000+ folks in the inaugurating Astana Hub, the new regional entrepreneurship center I’m helping to christen tomorrow – a massive techno park to inspire, support, and serve a growing horde of passionate, talented Kazakh and neighboring entrepreneurs,” Dorf wrote on his Twitter official page on Sunday.
A government-run program called Digital Kazakhstan has been launched to assist Kazakhstani entrepreneurs with their innovations and business start-ups. The technology park, called Astana Hub, is part of that initiative, which also includes simplified labor and visa regulations. Built out of the infrastructure from EXPO 2017, the world’s fair held in Astana in the summer of 2017, the park is now home to Kazakhstani computer and other technology specialists, who are provided with work and living space.
“We will develop an ecosystem here, and work with young talents. I am very glad that I was offered a job [here]. Dozens of very talented people gather here, they will cooperate and develop this system together,” Joseph Ziegler, a technology expert, said on Monday according to Kazinform.
The interest in building up Kazakhstan’s entrepreneurial activity and diversifying its largely hydrocarbon-reliant economy has come from the country’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who believes Kazakhstan needs a new model of economic growth that will allow the country in the Caspian and Central Asian regions to compete globally.
“It’s critical to cultivate such sunrise industries as 3D printing, online commerce, mobile banking, digital services, including health and education sectors, and others,” Nazarbayev said according to a report by Akorda.kz.
According to Kazakhstan’s statistics agency, in 2017 the number of start-up projects increased by almost 15 percent, reaching 40,000 for the first time in the last 10 years. The largest number of new small companies accounted for the trade sector (34.9 percent), construction (11.1 percent) and scientific and technical activities (4.9 percent).