Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of South Pacific
Excellencies, High Commissioners; members of the diplomatic corps
Representatives from civil society, international and regional organizations
Entrepreneurs and innovators; ladies and gentlemen:
It is an honour and a pleasure to be part of this opening. At UNDP, we are very excited about helping create a facilitated co-working space at the USP. I must say that we found the perfect partner to host it. The USP is a centre of gravity for learning, research and innovation in the Pacific. As the regional university, it is in the best position to offer a working environment where people from all over the region meet, work, network, share ideas and collaborate on projects.
This is indeed the very concept of the Innovation Hub and a Co-Working Space: to bring together individuals from different industries, countries and areas of expertise – people who otherwise wouldn’t know of each other.
Essentially, in addition to this being a well-equipped facility, this hub will serve 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 will be given to youth, women and differently abled persons.
We are confident that this space will provide ample opportunities for budding innovators to learn and engage in key trends that are shaping the entrepreneurship ecosystem; for instance, the fourth industrial revolution, SDGs and social innovation, entrepreneurship education, digitization and financial inclusion, to name just a few.
UNDP’s specific service offer to the users of the space will include:
- Hosting dedicated conversations with policymakers to strengthen the youth entrepreneurship ecosystem and youth alliance in the Pacific;
- Support participation of three (3) winners of the Youth Co:Lab to the Regional Youth Co:Lab Springboard program in Vietnam in March to promote the SDG focused innovation across Asia and the Pacific;
- Over the course of the year, we will also support capacity building and personal development events through workshops, trainings and networking activities so that users can directly interact with international entrepreneurs, investors and innovators; and
- Jointly with our partners, we will also host events to showcase the work of young social innovators in the region and to ensure 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 are a lot of great ideas out there waiting to get sparked and materialize. I am confident that this facility will 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.
I would like to recognize the contribution to this brave new venture of USP’s colleagues, Dr. Mele, Dr. Bibhya and DVC Armstrong who worked tirelessly with UNDP team to bring this day forward. I am also very thankful to the Australian Government and the DFAT-UNDP regional programme, who have not only supported this initiative financially, but have been a strong positive force for innovating development in the Pacific.