Awards shine a light on Papua New Guinea’s innovators


A food delivery service, a banking service for remote users and a new government portal for MSMEs were the big winners at the 2023 Innovation PNG Awards, announced last week.

GoFood PNG’s Vavine Anang receives the Innovation PNG Award for small business from Dr Jane Thomason and Business Advantage International’s Andrew Wilkins. Credit: Godfreeman Kaptigau/BAI

The winners of the 2023 Innovation PNG Awards were announced at a special gala awards dinner last Thursday night at APEC Haus, Port Moresby.

A judging panel, led by futurist Dr Jane Thomason, presented trophies to three award winners, chosen from a total of 58 entries.

‘The range of innovations covered by the entries was nothing short of breathtaking, covering many different economic activities, from agribusiness, food, education, real estate and energy, to telecommunications, logistics, manufacturing, construction and engineering and more,’ said Thomason.

‘The digital economy is an important opportunity for PNG’s future and the quality of applicants show that many are already seizing this potential. It augurs well for the digital future.’

Food app delivers

Just over half of the entries for the awards came from small businesses. The award for innovation in small business went to Port Moresby-based food ordering and delivery service, GoFood PNG.

Founded in 2016 with one car, a web address and two customers, it launched its phone app in 2021 and now services over 20,000 customers, delivering from 40 restaurants, as well as supermarkets and catering companies.

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The judges described GoFood PNG’s entry as ‘a well-conceived food ordering app and ‘last mile’ delivery service with market-proven execution and potential for growth.’ The judges were noted the service combined ‘features present in similar services around the world with those specifically adapted to PNG’s market conditions.’

GoFood PNG has plans to open in Lae and Mt Hagen and has already expanded into deliveries of non-food items.

‘The portal has the potential improve access to finance for the businesses that currently find it hardest to obtain finance.’

Shortlisted for the award were Bobatom Tech and Consultancy and e-learning platform, Reelae.

Special commendations were given to five SMEs: Unicorn Enterprise (t/a Hello Tax Man), two Lae-based drone businesses, DroneTree Mapping and Solutions and Hoping, the Centre for FutureNau and Papua Power.

Remote signatures

The large business award went to microfinance provider MiBank for the development of ‘Mobile Corporate’, a service that enables organisations and groups with multiple signatories to authorise financial transactions using basic mobile phone technology.

MiBank’s Tony Westaway receives the 2023 Innovation PNG Award for large business. Credit: Godfreeman Kaptigau/BAI

‘This innovation has particular relevance and use for remote areas where there is not adequate internet coverage, and for rural companies and groups,’ said the judges’ report. ‘As such, it is a well-thought-out solution created for existing PNG conditions.’

Also shortlisted were construction company Markham Culverts for introducing a new, geotextile-based road surface to PNG, and food delivery service PGO!.

Tenkile Conservation Alliance received a special commendation.

Government steps up

The Innovation PNG award for government went to the Credit Guarantee Corporation, only established in 2022, for its new loan referral platform: a web-based portal providing direct access to finance and related information for small and medium-sized businesses.

The Credit Guarantee Corporation’s Dominic Sikakau receives the 2023 Innovation PNG Award for government. Credit: Godfreeman Kaptigau/BAI

In the judges’ view, the portal ‘has the potential improve access to finance for the businesses that currently find it hardest to obtain finance.’

Also shortlisted for the government award were the Department of Civil Engineering at Unitech in Lae, for an educational model which helps engineering students address waste management problems, and the Coffee Industry Corporation for promoting the use of solar driers.

Special commendations went to the Milne Bay Provincial Health Authority, Kus’e Bruce Gigmal, a teacher at Gordon Secondary School, and National Judicial Staff Services.

The 2023 Innovation PNG Awards were held in conjunction with Innovation PNG 2023, a conference and expo focused on encouraging greater innovation across PNG’s economy. The conference, attended by several hundred delegates from businesss, government and universities, was held at APEC Haus last Friday. It was co-hosted by the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Business Advantage International.


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