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The ITU Telecom World Awards recognize the most promising innovative tech solutions with real-world social impact.

As the UN specialized agency for ICTs with 193 Member States, over 700 private sector entities and 155 years of industry expertise, ITU understands the critical role of digital technologies in accelerating social and economic development in emerging and developed markets.

Our Awards celebrate the innovation and creativity of ICT-based applications and initiatives changing lives for the better around the world – and provide an international platform to:

  • Highlight best practice
  • Share ideas on using tech for development
  • Network with peers, mentors and industry
  • Mobilize investment
  • Create new business opportunities for ICT solutions for social good

About the Awards

The ITU Digital World 2021 SME Awards were open to any start-up or SME using tech creatively to solve socio-economic challenges – anywhere in the world.. We received the highest number of submissions ever in the history of the Awards this year.

See the finalists and winners

Read our full Awards Terms & Conditions. Any queries? Contact us directly.​

Our jury

A distinguished jury of experts selected a shortlist of SME Awards applicants to pitch their solutions based on social impact, innovative use of ICTs, business model, scalability and environmental sustainability.

Winners in each category were selected from this shortlist and announced on the final day of the event during the high-profile Awards Ceremony.

Our 2021 jury

Read our Jury Terms & Conditions. Any queries? Contact us directly.​

ITU Digital World SME Awards 2021 Categories

The SME Awards 2021 were an opportunity to recognize excellent innovative tech solutions, build resilience and foster investment in tech SMEs in five categories:



innovative solutions to increasing universal access to the internet.

Smart cities,
smart living

using digital tech innovatively to improve urban life and beyond in areas such as energy, transport, planning, food management and commerce.


using technology to improve healthcare through remote diagnosis and treatment, care in the home, monitoring and prevention.

Digital finance

ICT-based initiatives focused on increasing and improving access to the economy for the banked and unbanked.


Innovative tools to expand educational programmes and capacity building, including training and relevant content in local languages

The benefits

  • Win UN recognition as an innovative ICT4D solutions provider

  • Benefit from international visibility before, during and after the event

  • Network with peers, industry experts, mentors and UN representatives

  • Take part in the SME Programme of capacity building and skills workshops, business matchmaking and networking events

ITU Digital World 2021 - Digital World Awards
Where you applied from in 2021

ITU Virtual Digital World 2020 SME Awards Winners and Finalists

Our 2020 winners and finalists
Our 2020 jury
Winning the Award has given us unparalleled exposure, access to markets, finance and new opportunities - it has truly been a game changer for our business.
Sabelo Sibanda, Co-Founder & CEO, Tuse Applications

2019 Awards

Industry Awards

for the most promising innovative solutions from large entities, either individually or in partnerships


for the National Pavilion at ITU Digital World with three or more of the most promising innovative SMEs present at the event who have applied for the Global SME Awards

Host Country
SME Awards

for the best and most innovative SME or solution from ITU Digital World’s host country
Recognition of
for the best innovative exhibitor within each National Pavilion at ITU Digital World

Award winners' success stories