Bringing Azerbaijan’s innovation ecosystem to a new level

Increasing national capacities in the application of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies and accelerating the digital transformation are priorities for Azerbaijan.

Over the past two years, the Government of Azerbaijan and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have been working together to strengthen the innovation ecosystem and unlock the country’s potential for digital transformation.

Funded by the Government of Slovenia, a project on the development of an innovation ecosystem and support infrastructure has already facilitated the delivery of forward-looking capacity-building activities in Azerbaijan. UNIDO has organized thematic workshops and training on such topics as innovation management, building start-up communities, and obtaining the necessary CE markings to access the European Union market, as well as on strengthening business management and leadership.

Within the framework of the project, in November 2021 UNIDO organized a study tour to Slovenia for a delegation from the Innovation and Digital Development Agency of Azerbaijan. The delegation’s visits to the Slovenian Institute of Quality and Metrology and the Ljubljana Technology Park provided insights into international best practices in innovation ecosystem-building and various aspects of innovation-driven entrepreneurship. The study tour participants had the opportunity to exchange with leading experts in industry, academia and the start-up community, deepening their understanding of the country’s start-up ecosystem and government support policies.

To further improve technological learning in 4IR and innovation capacity-building for national stakeholders, UNIDO has developed four thematic modules on innovation management, business coaching, skills for managing the 4IR and digital transformation for the Digital Education and Learning Centre (DEIC).

The DEIC is a digital knowledge hub established by the UNIDO project in cooperation with the Innovation and Digital Development Agency of Azerbaijan. It provides specialized courses on 4IR technologies, business excellence and accessing EU markets. Within the framework of the ongoing project, a regional conference will take place on 22 November 2022 in Baku, serving as a platform for stakeholders from the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia to exchange experiences and best practices on innovation ecosystem building. The conference will present the project results and provide recommendations on how to support business environment reforms to meet the requirements of innovation and entrepreneurship.

To explore opportunities to cooperate on the digital economy and 4IR, including the smartification of industry in Azerbaijan, discussions between UNIDO and the Centre for Analysis and Coordination of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) under the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan will continue. UNIDO expressed its readiness to support the implementation of the initiatives and projects with a priority on application of 4IR technologies in the national economy.

In the long run, the UNIDO projects have the potential to have an impact across different sectors of the country’s economy. By harnessing national innovation potential and boosting the application of cutting-edge 4IR technologies, UNIDO is helping Azerbaijan to ensure a smooth structural transition to the 4IR to achieve greater progress by innovation.

Bilateral cooperation between UNIDO and Azerbaijan on digital transformation and innovation, investment and technology transfer, and other development priority areas, will be further reinforced within a new Cooperation Framework. Signed on 14 November by Gerd Müller, Director General of UNIDO, and Mikayil Jabbarov, Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan, the new Cooperation Framework builds on the results of the long-standing cooperation between the Government of Azerbaijan and UNIDO and will guide joint efforts for a strengthened partnership in the next five years.