TechTown hosts three global entrepreneurs in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and VentureWell


Date: Nov. 19, 2019

Contact:  Kimberly Palter

Phone: (313) 483-1326



TechTown hosts three global entrepreneurs in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and VentureWell


TechTown Detroit was selected as one of 10 official incubation partners for the inaugural U.S. Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative, managed by the VentureWell Foundation. As part of the program, TechTown hosted three entrepreneurs looking to expand their operations to the United States from October through November.

The GIST initiative empowers young innovators through networking, skills building, mentoring and access to financing. Twenty nine of the best science-based innovators in the GIST portfolio incubated for a period of one month at recognized regional ecosystem leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship. TechTown’s three GIST entrepreneurs included: Rituparna Das from West Bengal, India; Jackie Yap from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Vakhtang Iashvili from Tbilisi, Georgia.

“A goal of the GIST initiative is to attract the best and brightest global innovators to up-and-coming innovation hubs in the United States in support of U.S. based regional economic development,” said Heath Naquin, VentureWell’s senior global and government liaison officer. “We also want to source new innovations which have the potential to succeed in and impact the United States economy.”

TechTown’s GIST entrepreneurs had access to the incubator’s network and resources during their stay, including a dedicated entrepreneur-in-residence. They also attended several conferences including the 2019 Net Impact Conference, the Forbes Under 30 Summit and TEDxDetroit.

“It has been an honor to serve as an ambassador for Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem for the last four weeks,” said Marlo Rencher, TechTown’s director of technology-based programs. “We’ve been inspired by the energy and enthusiasm that Rituparna, Jackie and Vakhtang brought to our community, and we appreciate the opportunity that VentureWell and the U.S. Department of State gave us as incubator partners with the GIST initiative. Our goal is to make relevant connections for entrepreneurs from across the globe that could create jobs in the city of Detroit.”

More about TechTown’s GIST entrepreneurs:

Rituparna Das from West Bengal, India heads Hydrotec Solutions. Her company developed a water filtering kiosk with a real-time monitoring component. Hydrotec’s filtering system provides safe drinking water to several municipalities and corporations in India. Das is exploring how Hydrotec’s solution in India can address water problems in the United States.

Jackie Yap is the CEO and co-founder of HiGi, a company dedicated to building sustainable communities by transforming agricultural waste to usable environmental products. Located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, HiGi currently converts organic pollutants such as invasive plant species into briquettes used in barbeque restaurants in the Philippines. HiGi’s goal is to not only expand the distribution of the briquettes, but to also help businesses manage their inventory of plant-based products by providing relevant information that will link transparency and traceability to sustainability and long-term profitability.

Vakhtang Iashvili is from Tbilisi, Georgia. He and his partners at Total Traffic Management (TTM) are excited about bringing their solution to reduce speeding to the United States. TTM has innovated a device that limits the speed for fleet vehicles, decreasing insurance costs and increasing safety for all.