Growth opportunities for Asia-Pacific's innovators

Innovation takes center stage during a special breakout session at the Devex Career Forum in Manila. Photo by: Wilson Q. Tan / Devex

Innovative minds are in high demand today. But what are the biggest growth sectors for social entrepreneurs and innovators in the Asia-Pacific region?

Experts weighed in Wednesday at the first Devex Career Forum in Manila.

There's growing demand for innovation in the areas of renewable energy and inclusive business, Markus Dietrich, director and co-founder of Asian Social Enterprise Incubator, told a room that filled at capacity with job seekers across the region. In fact, his organization is currently looking for individuals who want to work in that space.

Earl Martin Valencia, co-founder and president of IdeaSpace Foundation, said it was a "pity" that the Philippine government and relief groups responding to Typhoon Haiyan had to import life-saving devices from abroad. Such items — from solar-powered lamps to water purification devices — should be conceived and built locally, he said.

Demand for innovative solutions to global development challenges — whether in health, energy or sanitation — is clearly on the rise, panelists agreed.

Andrew Baird, RTI's program area director on workforce and economic opportunities, said that just before the event, he searched the U.S. Federal Business Opportunities website for the word "innovation"; he got more than 400 hits.

"About half of them had innovation in the title,” he suggested, and about half of those actually involved working on innovations. That, he concluded, may not have been the case eight years ago.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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