ASTANA – Central Asia’s largest IT forum, Digital Bridge, made a splash in the Kazakh capital on Oct. 12-13, gathering over 30,000 participants from 30 countries to discuss the most up-to-date issues in harmonizing human intelligence with artificial intelligence, reported the Astana Hub International Technopark of IT startups.
The forum started with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s address at a plenary session, which also involved remarks delivered by co-founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Draper University Tim Draper, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, and other prominent experts.
Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov presented awards to seven winners of the Digital Bridge Awards 2023, selected from 337 applications submitted from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Tajikistan, the United States and Uzbekistan.
The forum also featured 29 agreements on IT and innovation advancement. The Kazakh Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry signed three memorandums, including one with the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) Foundation, to host the ICPC World Finals in Kazakhstan next year.
Astana Hub concluded eight memorandums aimed at nurturing the ecosystem of Central Asia’s technology startups, Kazakhstan’s venture market, and the game development industry.
For the first time, the filming of the “Meet the Drapers” reality show took place in Central Asia this year. Four Kazakh startups that passed the preliminary selection presented their projects, and only one of them won investments of $1 million. The winner is yet to be announced.
The forum hosted its first Google for Startups summit with representatives from 15 partner countries. This event marked the continuation of cooperation between Google for Startups and Astana Hub through the Silkway Accelerator, with 37 startups launched at a cumulative value of $400 million.
Digital Bridge 2023 featured numerous exhibitions and zones, including the robotics one, where IT schools and regional IT hubs showcased their achievements and programs. Entrepreneurs presented their projects at the pitching zone, while the job fair, both in-person and in the metaverse, presented over 500 vacancies from 20 major companies.
The forum’s most exciting and long-awaited part was the Astana Hub Battle, one of the largest startup competitions in the IT world. This year, over 200 companies competed for a prize fund of $125,000 in five categories. MyMind, Porte, Beksar, MyStory and Qtap startups won $25,000 each.
The event culminated with a performance by world-famous Kazakh DJ and Grammy Award winner Imanbek.
Astana Hub CEO Magzhan Madiyev congratulated and thanked all participants, naming the forum a key part of the mission to develop technological entrepreneurship in the region, promote the domestic startup culture, and find new participants in the ecosystem.