150 companies from 36 countries entered the Urban Innovation Challenge: ​Citypreneurs competition, hosted by UN agencies, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the Seoul Digital Foundation, and the World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization. Of those, CareBand was accepted as 1 of 30 companies to present in-person in Korea! The young startups were chosen based on their applicability to the ​UN Sustainable Development Goals​ (SDGs). The UN developed the SDGs in 2015 as a part of the world’s 2030 agenda to improve countries. Areas of focus included Good Health and Wellbeing, as well as Sustainable Cities and Communications. One of the three themes of the competition was Social Protection.

Last week, I was flown to Korea for the presentation, with mentorship and guidance along the way. It was quite an honor being hosted in Seoul — and certainly also an adventure, meeting folks from all over the world with fascinating ideas and passion to change the world.

The night that I arrived, there was a networking event, during which time I met folks from the startup and academic worlds. Fitting for an American, the food they served was… pizza!

The day of the actual competition, I met and heard from startup leadership of companies including those helping the disabled (with two supporting the blind specifically), the elderly, children, and nurses. I heard panel discussions touching on policy and youth innovation (with an earpiece for English-language translation when Korean was being spoken!).

Based on my pitch and Q&A with three judges (one from a UN organization and two from Spark Labs investors), we made it into the final pitch of 10 teams! Though we didn’t end up winning, I had an incredible experience in the process. I even had some time to explore, including a hike up Namsan Mountain with a startup friend I made who lives in Wales!

For a news story, including a video report, go to ​tinyurl.com/y8x6gb8a​.

By: Andy Rapoport​, Research Manager


About Citypreneurs

Citypreneurs is a young SDGs startup competition for entrepreneurs from around the world interested in solving urban issues, starting with Seoul and achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Filled with workshops, mentoring, and capacity building activities that support youth led startups to integrate the SDGs into their business model and grow through engagement with investors. Citypreneurs holds interactive policy discussions between academia, policy makers, private sector, and international organizations to further support the startup ecosystem.

The 2018 Citypreneurs event is co-hosted by Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), Seoul Digital Foundation (SDF), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) and World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO).

About UN’s SDG

The UN Office for Sustainable Development contributes to building, exchanging and facilitating the use of knowledge in support of transitions to sustainable development paths in all countries.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by UN Member States in September 2015. Included in the Agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets, described as “integrated and indivisible, global in nature and universally applicable, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.” Furthermore, in the Agenda Member States note the following: “We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind”.