Posted by: U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt
Last Friday, I got to attend the 1991 Open Data Incubator “Demo Day” at the Eurasia Business Center. This is one of my favorite events all year, and was definitely a highlight of my week. The Open Data Incubator, founded by the amazing Denis Gursky, brings together teams from all around Ukraine for a super-intense six-week program of developing open data solutions in different fields. This year, 14 teams from Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa put together open data plans for agriculture, energy efficiency, public safety, anticorruption, and transportation. Of course, the best part of the program is the Demo Day at the end, because that’s when you get to see what the teams have come up with. As always, seeing what Ukraine’s dynamic and talented technology experts can do was incredibly inspirational. I’m very grateful to Denis and to the United States-supported Western NIS Enterprise Fund (and also Microsoft Ukraine, who hosted Demo Day) for making this open data event possible.
The 1991 Open Data Incubator is a powerful example of how the innovation economy can drive progress not only in business, but in all of society. I’m from California, so I’m a technology optimist. I’ve seen the extraordinarily important, transformative impact that technology has had during my professional lifetime of about thirty years. Every couple of years, I try to get to Silicon Valley for a day or two, because you talk to people there and it’s a reminder of how fast the world is changing. You meet people who have boundless imagination and who are absolutely committed to the idea of leveraging technology to improve the world in which we live. Today, Ukraine is tapping into those same dynamics and I’m very excited to see where that leads.
Open data is a prime example of a multi-purpose approach that has benefits in many areas – fighting corruption, leveraging innovation, driving economic growth – something that was obvious from talking to the Incubator project representatives last Friday. I loved hearing about AgroMonitor and AgriEye, innovators who are using information to modernize and raise the technological sophistication of agriculture, such an important part of Ukraine’s economy and with such huge potential. As somebody who travels a lot in Ukraine and has spent a lot of time on Ukrainian roads, it was great to learn about Navizor, an open data navigation solution. These are all examples of how technology can transform traditional business processes in a way that creates new services, facilitates economic growth, and improves quality of life.
Ukraine has all the ingredients to go through a fundamental transformation in economic possibility driven by open data and grassroots innovation, the same transformation we’ve seen in other countries. You have talented and well-qualified engineers and technologists. You have an extraordinary DNA for creativity and innovation. And you have the national commitment to democracy and strong civil society that is an indispensable ingredient of a flourishing innovation economy.
As Ukraine’s incredibly talented technologists continue to develop that innovation economy, the United States will remain your strong partner. Keep it up – you’re building the future.