Isle of Man launches its biggest global Innovation Challenge

Lyle Wraxall

The Isle of Man has launched its biggest-ever Innovation Challenge to develop solutions that tackle key issues in FinTech, Cleantech, and Artificial Intelligence.

Participating businesses from around the world will develop and test creative technology-based solutions to address challenges faced by companies in the Island and globally.

The extended Challenge will this year see participants submit entries under three key themes: FinTech, Cleantech, and Artificial Intelligence.

The Challenge is a major part of the Isle of Man’s ambition to create an environment which nurtures entrepreneurship and innovation and where the businesses of the future have the opportunity to thrive and grow.

The launch took place at Digital Isle, the flagship annual conference of the Isle of Man Department of Enterprise’s Executive Agency, Digital Isle of Man, where government, regulators and businesses come together to discuss the Island’s leading technology sector.

The Isle of Man, which is the world’s only entire nation to be awarded UNESCO Biosphere status, said it provides a perfect setting for the Challenge, with a strong commitment to both innovation and sustainability. Participants will benefit from the Isle of Man’s agile regulatory environment and its supportive business community, who value both economic growth and development and conservation of the environment.

The Innovation Challenge is a joint initiative delivered by the Isle of Man Government’s Executive Agencies for Digital, Finance and Business and will also involve business leaders from companies in the island participating as judges and mentors.

The Challenge facilitates collaboration with local businesses, government agencies, and regulators to enhance solutions and gain insights for global readiness. Mentorship and support are available, guiding innovators to success, while networking opportunities connect participants with industry peers, potential clients, and investors. Additionally, winners and participants receive added local and international exposure, bolstering project credibility.

Businesses can apply at until applications close on February 28, 2023.

The competition will culminate at a finale event in summer 2024 at which finalists will have the opportunity to present their solutions to an expert panel of judges, digital technology businesses and wider industry.

Lyle Wraxall, chief executive, Digital Isle of Man, said: “Following the success of the FinTech Innovation Challenge last year, this offers businesses from around the world another brilliant opportunity to take advantage of the business and innovation-friendly environment the Island provides, and the collaborative approach of government and regulators in the Isle of Man.

“The increased scope of the Challenge demonstrates the vision and ambition of the Isle of Man in wanting to champion and develop our capabilities in these cutting edge sectors, and will allow participants to develop technology-based solutions which respond to some of the most pressing opportunities and challenges businesses are facing.”

Michael Crowe, chief executive, Finance Isle of Man, said: “This challenge will build on the success of our first ever InsurTech Acceleration Program and FinTech Innovation Challenge – both of which concluded this year and attracted trail-blazing businesses and scale-ups from around the world.

“Expanding the Challenge to include a wide range of themes exemplifies the diversity of the Isle of Man’s economy, and I am looking forward to seeing how the Challenge develops and the solutions provided from participants.”

Kirree Gooberman, head of business development, Business Isle of Man, said: “For the first time, this year’s challenge will encourage innovators to work on finding solutions to issues impacting our environment and the sustainability of business operations, to explore solutions across all sectors of the economy and their supply chains, from food production through to energy.

“The Isle of Man is uniquely positioned to support this challenge. We have a supportive environment for businesses to trial innovative and creative new concepts before hitting the wider market and, as the world’s only entire UNESCO Biosphere nation, we have set ambitious net zero targets, including committing to total decarbonisation of our electricity by 2030.

“We recognise collaboration between government, industry and innovators is essential to meet the challenges of climate change.”

The Challenge builds on the achievements of the InsurTech Accelerator Programme and FinTech Innovation Challenge in 2022 and 2023, which, together, attracted 160 highly motivated and creative applicants from across the world.