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2021 Local Innovators Competition

A week of pure inspiration and innovation in New York

Between April 25 and 29, 2022, representatives from Bolivia, Argentina and Colombia held meetings in the United States with organizations specialized in the topics of their projects. They already have financing opportunities and are taking their next steps.

After a week of high-level meetings in New York City, the teams' projects Tororo (Bolivia), Cordova (Argentina) and Valledupar (Colombia), winners of the 2021 Local Innovators Contest, are beginning to take off to transform their locations. Putting people at the center, the initiatives address rural tourism through blockchain, food insecurity and female empowerment.

“They returned hopeful not to 100%, but to 1000%, and with financing opportunities. There are already some specific points to implement,” he summarized after the trip. Candelaria Yanzi, coordinator of Innovative Cities of the Local Innovation Network (RIL).

“It was really inspiring,” he said. Florence Gay, also from Innovative Cities and leader of the Contest. The groups highlighted the networking they experienced, the scope of the agenda and everything that was generated within people by exposing themselves to this type of meetings.”

High level agenda

Together with RIL specialists, they traveled Alejandro Trujillo, executive director of Walk us (Torotoro); Paola Guzman, project director of Caminnos (Torotoro); Luciano Crisafulli, director of Innovation of the Municipality of CórdobaJuan Pablo Las Heras, co-founder of Ponio (Cordova); and Andrea Escobar, director of the SoyDoy Foundation (Valledupar).

The agenda included visits to New York City Economic Development CorporationNewLabGoldman SachsBloomberg PhilanthropiesColumbia Entrepreneurship CenterCornellTechUNDP Regional OfficeBrooklyn Navy Yard and Columbia Data Center.

The 2021 Contest was promoted by Ayni | Communities of Local Innovators, an alliance formed by RILAshokaVia Education and CoLab, and opted to generate a transformation in the territory through collaborative work between municipal leaders and social entrepreneurs. In 2022 it is its sixth edition with the Cities of Opportunities Program.

In New York City Economic Development Corporation.

A model city in innovation

“New York is a world reference in this model that we seek of articulation between the public, private and academic sectors to promote the growth and emergence of enterprises that are related to the development of cities,” explained Candelaria Yanzi about the destination to which They traveled between April 25 and 29, 2022.

In previous editions, the meetings with the winning teams were in San Francisco, Barcelona, the Basque Country and Tel Aviv. “New York, in addition to being a very cosmopolitan city, is also a mecca in social integration policies and headquarters of organizations that we wanted to get to know,” he added.

At Cornell Tech University.

Systemic change approach

The initiatives of the 2021 Local Innovators Contest were designed by putting people at the center and creating networks of change that involve multiple social actors.

“An agenda like this changes the optics and helps get out of the bubble. For the initiatives to become a reality, both financing and people involved to promote them are needed,” assessed Florencia Gay. In that sense, the RIL members especially appreciated that real opportunities have emerged in New York for projects to work with “ecosystems that previously seemed more distant.”

“In the ecosystems that we want to generate for the development of these systemic initiatives, financing must be included as part of it in a virtuous manner. And the sooner you can be in the process, the better –said Candelaria Yanzi–. The teams are at the forefront, they know how to communicate very well and they have a counterpart who listens to them”.

Mutual collaboration

In the meetings, which occurred in English and Spanish, the teams intensively practiced the way they tell about their initiatives. In addition, they strengthened ties with each other to face their projects.

“We are betting on a great community of local innovators that does not distinguish between winners and non-winners. Collaboration is part of the DNA of what we propose and we want to promote much more this year,” Candelaria and Florencia agreed.

The 2022 Cities of Opportunities Program is now underway! In this note You can find out its progress towards August 2022.

“Let us unite our dreams, energies and capacities to transform our present problems into opportunities. If not today, when? If not you, who? If not together, how?”, proposes the AYNI invitation | Systemic Innovation Communities.

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