US embassy promotes innovation in Kazakhstan with 'Go Viral' festival

By Ksenia Bondal


Guests attending last year's Go Viral international festival in Almaty take photos to commemorate the event in June 2017. [US Embassy in Kazakhstan]

ALMATY -- The US Embassy in Astana is set to host a three-day festival in Almaty June 15-17 to encourage the spread of innovation in business, culture, media and technology.

Organisers expect to welcome innovators from 14 countries to the annual "Go Viral" festival, according to an embassy statement.

Registration is free and ends Friday (June 8). It is limited to 1,500 selected participants.

"Go Viral is a gathering point for energetic, talented people from media, technology and business," US Consul General in Kazakhstan Mark Moody said at a news conference in Almaty May 31.

So far, 1,391 people have registered from the United States, France, South Korea, Germany, Senegal, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine and all the countries in Central Asia.

"The festival's goal is to create a platform where [participants] can exchange experience and ideas and where they'll be able to meet business partners," Moody said.

"The United States itself built its economy by adopting innovations and incorporating the best ideas, regardless of where those ideas germinated," he said. "This principle can work wonderfully in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. That is why we are holding this festival."

At the end of the festival, the embassy and other sponsors will pick the best projects and will award grants for the development of those projects.

Go Viral in 2018

The theme for this year's Go Viral is "Interlaced: Threads of Innovation, Interaction and Inspiration that Link Us Together".

As part of the festival's media focus, Go Viral participants will talk about using media outlets to resolve problems involving the environment, corruption, inclusiveness in the workplace and women's rights, according to Moody.

In the business portion, speakers from the United States will talk about trends in Silicon Valley in 2018 and how to find a niche for start-ups. They will teach participants about market analysis and how to determine customers' needs, he said.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs from Central Asia will talk about the distinctive characteristics of working in the region, while international investors will explain what kind of ventures are drawing their investment, Moody said.

Workshops on documentary filmmaking and the motion picture industry also will be held. They will be conducted by specialists in the industry -- stars in their respective countries, according to organisers.

One of the speakers is American photojournalist John Stanmeyer, the winner of the World Press Photo Contest in 2014, who has done work in the United States and Europe and devoted considerable time to Central Asia, Moody said.

Digitisation occurring in education and health care, crypto-currencies, virtual reality and robotics will be discussed during the technology section, he said.

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