The Mobile World Congress which is one of the most important global events in mobile technology and innovation that supports the UN SDGs has announced a partnership with the World Bank to improve development through Big Data.

The MWC venue in Barcelona

The 2018 edition of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), which took place last week in Barcelona, has reached remarkable results. Gathering more than 107,000 participants and 2,400 companies who exhibited their devices and business solutions, the event is known for the new technologies that are yearly presented to the general public. From self-driven cars to smartphones, and from smart homes to drones, everything seems to gravitate around electronics and software.

But there’s more to this than meets the eye. Last year, the GSM Association, representative of the mobile operators and organizer of the MWC, launched the initiative Big Data for Social Good, which gathers now 19 companies and foundations committed to supporting developing countries, foster education, improve the conditions of refugee camps and encourage startups that develop solutions to empower minorities.

This year, the MWC social good project took another step forward. With the motto of Creating a Better World, the 2018 edition heavily supported the Sustainable Development Goals. The GSMA partnered with Barcelona artists to illustrate the unique role Mobile is playing in supporting the SDGs and created visual characters to represent the mobile industry impact in supporting each one of the goals. The audience had the opportunity to learn about the SDGs and to know the role of the mobile industry to reach every one of them.

During the event, GSMA announced a partnership with the World Bank to leverage Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to communities and countries in need, fighting poverty and enhancing economic development. «With IoT and big data, we have the ability to provide insights that can be used across a wide range of applications, from agriculture to environmental protection and beyond», said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA.

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, praised the initiative and made a call for more stakeholders of the mobile industry to do more against poverty. He particularly mentioned the impact of the 5G implementation, planned to start in the US and China by the end of the year, on improving people’s lives. «We must ensure it will create new markets and jobs for the poorer countries. It’s urgent to rethink tech and connectivity roles and how they will create new drives of economic development», he said.

During the many conferences dedicated to the impact of technology on society, companies showcased projects and strategies to improve connectivity and inclusion through technology. Vodafone Foundation, for example, is installing emergency wifi networks in refugee camps and in areas affected by natural disasters. Oisin Walton, programme manager for the Foundation, showcased an education project that started in the Kakuma refugee camp, in Kenya, which consists of a digital classroom that is now spread to 31 schools in 4 countries. The project is a result of a partnership with the UNHCR. «There’s a huge potential to do things together. We believe in innovation as a combination of partnership models and technology solutions», he stated.

Many other companies focused on including and empowering impaired people, like MJN Neuroserveis, which developed a device that predicts an epilepsy seizure 1 minute before it happens, Wayfinder, an audio solution with geolocalization for blind people, and Iris Bond, which helps paralyzed patients to communicate through their eyes.

Singapore is proudly known as The Garden City by its citizens. The nickname makes every bit of sense – the city is investing in environmental-friendly projects and is committed to sustainability.

Gardens by the Bay

What comes to one’s mind when one hears of Singapore? Many would say a high-tech, advanced city-state with a dense population and a praiseworthy economic performance. But there’s much more to one of the most innovative communities of the Eastern world as indeed Singapore has been investing heavily in sustainability, green projects and innovative policies – a long-term commitment that should serve as an example for other countries to follow.

There are three fields where the city stands out when it comes to green innovation: urban planning, water management and clean energy. It’s all connected – green buildings, mandatory since 2008, help people to save water, cool temperatures down naturally and improve the quality of the air. They also provide healthier, open spaces for adults and children.

In urban planning, for example, Singapore has set a rule for new developments in the Marina Bay area whereby developers must comply with a 100% greenery replacement policy. It’s also in the same area that the city has created one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the world and set aside a 250 acres of green area named Gardens by the Bay. Many public buildings have now their own green terraces. Connected with one another, they make jogging tracks up in the sky!

The city aims to attain by 2030 a 80% score in the environmental performance rating called Green Mark, reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption. In Marina Bay, visitors can find Supertrees which collect solar energy by day and by night perform a beautiful light show. Singapore has also an electric car project called Eva Taxi, a collaborative project developed by the local university that will transform public transportation while saving energy.

Regarding water management, Singapore has invested in the reuse of reclaimed water, rainwater collection system and dessalination. Committed to building a water-conscious society, the city has won many prizes for its efforts on public and private management of water and is considered as a benchmakr in the use of innovation in the sustainable use of water.

The host city of SIGEF 2018 is on the frontline of innovation for good!

The host city of SIGEF 2018 is a good example of technology used to improve citizens lives. In a series of articles, Horyou blog will showcase some of the many positive aspects of the city!


In Singapore, a local app gives you personalized health statistics and tips to improve your habits, while another allows you to pay your parking ticket with your smartphone. These apps are all developed and proposed by the Singaporean government to improve the quality of life of its citizens.

Singapore is often pointed at as one of the smartest cities on the planet. Last year, its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasized the goal of becoming the world first smart city-state in the years to come. «We live in a time were cities are getting more and more prominence», says Manuel Tarin, chairman of the Smart City Business Institute.

How to develop a concerted, efficient strategy for a city of 5,6 million residents? It seems that the government has got the challenge right. Apart from the notorious effort of using big data to provide personalized services to the population, the city has also developed technologies that look like they were drawn from a sci-fi movie.

Take health, for instance. Singapore provides a service called TeleHealth, which allows elderly people to be monitored and rehabilitated online, without having to leave their houses. Any citizen can go to a website and access their private medical record and useful health information. When it comes to mobility, the city has a research lab to self-drive vehicles and plans to develop a real-time public transportation app, whereby people can choose routes according to their needs and get the most efficient transportation as quickly as possible.

Since 2014, when the Prime Minister launched the Smart Nation Initiative, Singapore has set dozens of landmarks, supported by stakeholders in the private sector, academia and civil society. Above all the innovation involved, the main goal of the city is to provide a better quality of life to its people, which is why technology is only a means, not the goal. As the Minister in charge of the Smart Nation initiative, Vivian Balakrishnan, said in a recent interview, that way no one will be left behind: «The real challenge is to commoditize the technology so that the new middle class can arise. Using and enjoying the fruits of this technology, that’s really what this challenge should be», she pointed.

Have you ever heard of ‘smart cities’? It’s a contemporary expression that designates good, effective urban planning which uses technology and creativity to solve perennial urban problems such as air pollution, traffic control and energy consumption. Forget flying cars – although they could play a role in future cities – and think about planning, data analysis and efficient use of resources.

Photo: UNDP

We are now almost 4 billion people living in cities, more than half the global population. And urbanization keeps growing – 1 billion more will move to or be born in cities in the next 12 years. It’s a logical trend. If living in cities would mean more access to jobs, healthcare services and quality education, then it would be a reasonable outcome that millions of people would prefer to live in urban areas. Yet, it’s not always the case. Many cities still provide poor public services and infrastructure and thus have to face such challenges as the proliferation of slums, or air pollution, or again inequality and violence. How to address the challenge? Innovation and sustainability are the key words to make the SDG 11 a reality.

The good news is that in 2017, 149 countries have been developing national-level urban planning programs, many of which are using available and inexpensive technologies. In the last 17 years, some things did change for the better. The proportion of urban population living in developing country slums fell from 39% in 2000 to 30% in 2014. More cities are supporting healthier lifestyles, calling people to use cleaner means of transportation. Others are implementing incentives to reuse and recycling waste, as well as running water saving campaigns. Still, management of waste and air pollution, for instance, are below World Health Organization acceptable levels.

Universities, governments and international organizations are working together to come up with ideas that tackle the many issues urbanization imposes. There is no panacea, as each community faces its own specific challenges and, ideally, the best solutions have to be worked out internally, best in cities that are hubs of innovation and diversity.

Horyou community is passionate about Smart Cities. Both SIGEF 2016 in Marrakesh and SIGEF 2017 in Astana panels covered extensively the topic and helped trigger important discussions about the future of transportation, energy and sustainable construction. SIGEF 2018, due to take place in Singapore, will, in turn, bring together experts, government officials and organizations to propose sustainable solutions and replicable ideas that are liable to make our cities better places to live. It’s Horyou’s commitment to a society that we aspire to build together!

If you want to be part of SIGEF 2018, read more about the #HoryouLightChallenge. You can choose the SDG11 or any other, promote your post on social media and win an all-inclusive trip to SIGEF in Singapore, in September 2018!

Social Entrepreneurship Is Taking Over the Startup Ecosystem

Versión en Español a continuación

Family photo of Google Actívate Barcelona

I got to the University of Barcelona on Monday morning for the first day of my entrepreneurship training. I was already familiar with the model – a few months ago, I travelled to Bilbao to attend a digital marketing course, hosted by the local university and organized by Google Actívate, a training division of the technology giant in Spain which offers free courses to people interested in the startup and digital worlds. I was curious, though, about this one. How to train an entrepreneur in three days?

The 300 people in the auditorium were advised: don’t give up, you won’t regret it! Becoming an entrepreneur is tough, the Google ambassador says, but you have to deal with the turnarounds of the business world. OK, I got the message.

I was part of Group 22 (out of 29) of participants that mostly came from other countries, except for two Spanish girls (one of whom left for lunch and never came back). A mixed and international group with very different backgrounds, including a nurse, a musician, a designer, a DJ, a salesman, a student, a hospitality executive and me.

On the first assignment, we were all invited to tell the rest of us about our passions, what we think the world needs, and what are the trends for the future. And, over and above all this, decide which challenge we want to address over our 3 working days.

Then a surprise came.

Out of all 29 groups, only one decided not to take the social entrepreneurship path. As for the rest of our “colleagues” on that very first morning, they were all convinced that the issues the world faces and the trends for the future are all related to our passions, namely: healthy food, better relationships, smart cities, safe environment, gender equality. Which convinced me that there is a new generation of entrepreneurs, more interested in making the world a better place than on making blind profits.

The next two days took the path every training takes: lots of theory, some practical tasks, presentations, discussions. People trying to work together, pitching, business canvasing, and having beers after all this. Group work and personal growth. Motivational business cases, personal advices. I had to learn to change opinions many times, overcome my rusty Spanish and try to sell our idea to people in the streets. I heard I say ‘no’ too many times and this is not good for me, neither is it for the group. I had meaningful conversations with amazing people during lunch.

On the last day, everybody was excited to pitch their ideas to the other groups. ‘Google may buy it’, some hoped. ‘We’re taking this further’, many others planned. Most of them were deeply in love with their projects, passionate about the positive difference they can bring to their communities or to the planet. I for one, have to confess I was completely excited with ours – an app that can choose the fastest, cheapest or cleanest means of transportation for a given destination, according to your priorities. We might decide to take that one further.

I left an hour before the end of the training (yes, I broke the deal), feeling hopeful about us as a society. I felt that social entrepreneurship is taking over the startup world, which is the seed for a better business world. Young and old, Europeans and Latin Americans, executives and musicians, we’re all working for the social good. There’s hope.

Written by Vívian Soares


El Emprendimiento Social se está apoderando del ecosistema de las startups

En un Lunes frío, llegué a la Universidad de Barcelona para el primer día de mi formación de emprendimiento. Ya estaba familiarizada con el modelo: hace unos meses, viajé a Bilbao para asistir a un curso de marketing digital, organizado por la universidad local con Google Actívate, una división de capacitación del gigante tecnológico en España que ofrece cursos gratuitos a personas interesadas en los mundos digital y de las startups. Tenía curiosidad, sin embargo, sobre este. ¿Cómo entrenar a un emprendedor en tres días?

Se aconsejó a las 300 personas en el auditorio: ¡no desistas, no te arrepentirás! Convertirse en empresario es difícil, dice el embajador de Google, pero debe hacer frente a los cambios en el mundo de los negocios. Vale, recibí el mensaje.

Fui parte del Grupo 22 (de 29) de participantes que en su mayoría provenían de otros países, a excepción de dos españolas (una de las cuales se fue a almorzar y nunca regresó). Un grupo mixto e internacional con orígenes muy diferentes, que incluyen una enfermera, un músico, un diseñador, un DJ, un vendedor, un estudiante, una ejecutiva de hospitalidad y yo.

En la primera tarea, todos fuimos invitados a compartir nuestras pasiones, lo que creemos que el mundo necesita y cuáles son las tendencias para el futuro. Y, por encima de todo esto, teníamos que decidir qué desafío queremos abordar durante nuestros 3 días de trabajo.

Entonces, una sorpresa.

De los 29 grupos, solo uno decidió no tomar el camino del emprendimiento social. En cuanto al resto de nuestros “colegas” en la primera mañana, todos estaban convencidos de que los problemas que enfrenta el mundo y las tendencias para el futuro están relacionados con nuestras pasiones, a saber: alimentos saludables, mejores relaciones, ciudades inteligentes, medio ambiente, igualdad de género. Lo cual me convenció de que hay una nueva generación de empresarios, más interesados ​​en hacer del mundo un lugar mejor que en obtener beneficios a ciegas.

Los siguientes dos días tomaron el camino que toma cada capacitación: mucha teoría, algunas tareas prácticas, presentaciones, discusiones. Trabajamos juntos, lanzamos ideas, hicimos negocios y tomamos cervezas después de todo esto. Mucho trabajo en grupo y crecimiento personal. Escuchamos casos comerciales motivacionales y consejos personales. Tuve que aprender a cambiar de opinión muchas veces, superar mi verguenza de hablar un mal español e intentar vender nuestra idea a la gente en las calles. Escuché que digo ‘no’ muchas veces y esto no es bueno para mí, tampoco lo es para el grupo. Tuve conversaciones significativas con personas increíbles.

El último día, todos estaban emocionados de presentar sus ideas a los otros grupos. “Ojalá Google lo compre”, algunos esperaban. “Vamos llevar esto más allá”, muchos otros planearon. La mayoría de ellos estaban profundamente enamorados de sus proyectos, apasionados por la diferencia positiva que pueden aportar a sus comunidades o al planeta. Por mi parte, tengo que confesar que estaba emocionada con la nuestra, una aplicación que puede elegir el medio de transporte más rápido, más barato o más limpio para un destino determinado, de acuerdo con sus prioridades.

Me fui una hora antes del final de la capacitación (sí, rompí el trato), sintiéndome optimista sobre nosotros como sociedad. Sentí que el emprendimiento social se está apoderando del mundo de las startups, que es la semilla de un mundo empresarial mejor. Jóvenes y viejos, europeos y latinoamericanos, ejecutivas y músicos, todos trabajamos por el bien social. Hay esperanza.

Fostering new ideas and processes through innovation and entrepreneurship for good


Imagine a world with clean air, renewable and endless sources of water and a no speculation financial system! Far from being the child of a utopian mind, the idea of living in such a world is possible thanks to innovation. In all countries, entrepreneurs are relying on technology to propose new solutions to the problems of our society and make a difference.

The UN Sustainable Development Goal number 9 is about building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. This is one of the most successful goals, as may improvements have been so far achieved worldwide. The SDG 9 also touches on many other goals, as it generates jobs, helps to combat hunger and poverty and furthers equality. Innovative industries’ impact on carbon emissions is minimal, as they tend to be cleaner.

According to the UNDP, carbon emissions of countries that have moved towards more efficient and clean industries have significantly decreased: in Europe and North America alone the 10 largest manufacturing countries have thus reduced their emissions by 36%. The greatest challenge, however, lies in weighing improvement, knowing that developing countries evolve at a slower pace than the richest ones. Still, investment in clean industrialization and innovation has increased worldwide, with more money going to research and development, transport, economic infrastructure and energy.

Horyou has constantly been supporting innovation and eco-efficient industries. During the 2017 edition of SIGEF, in Astana, Kazakhstan, its agenda covered industrial innovation on Future Energy and Cities of Tomorrow, showcasing many ventures and projects with a high potential of changing the world in a positive way. So has SIGEF 2016, in Marrakesh, Morocco, which covered extensively the topic of how transportation, water, energy and financial industries are innovating in sustainable and inclusive ways, and where a number of entrepreneurs were invited to present their projects as part of the SIGEF Awards, a social innovation-oriented set-up that showcases and awards the most relevant innovative ideas in social good. Two winning projects were about building a cleaner environment using simple and ground-breaking energy.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote sustainable industries and innovation in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

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