INDIGENOUS entrepreneurs in Papua New Guinea have taken their first steps towards setting up their own version of Silicon Valley.
The move is part of a European-funded business cluster project also running in Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Douveri Henao is part of the PNG-based group, which focuses on information and communications technology businesses.
This week, Mr Henao and other young software engineers representing 25 PNG start-up companies gathered for their final conference at the end of a 10-week project.
"It's connecting the diverse, and also the exciting, dots of start-up entrepreneurs, telco companies and even accounting and legal firms [and] financing firms that have any interest in growing the information communications technology sector," he said.
"The cluster is how to actually provide a business environment for that action to occur."
Mr Henao says all of the 80 participants at this week's conference are graduates of the computer science degree at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, which commenced 15 years ago.
And most of them are keen to use their tech skills while moving into more creative industries.
"It has been an interesting journey for them," Mr Henao said.
"In the IT area the rapid evolution provokes innovation [so] it's not a static sector, so what has happened is a lot of them have embarked on commencing or establishing their own start-up entities.
"We are seeing an interesting and exciting bubble developing."
One of the success stories attending the conference was Freddy Apakali, who grew up in the remote Highlands province of Enga, and now makes his home in Silicon Valley in California.
Mr Apakali was the second student to graduate with the computer science degree, and after spending some time working at the Ok Tedi mine, he felt it was not the right industry for him and made the decision to move to California.
After 10 years living there, Mr Apakali has done work for big retail companies and now has his own start-up company.
"Not only is he partaking in the sector he is also an active participant," Mr Henao said.
Another success story is Dr Raula Kula (pictured above), assistant professor in software engineering at the University of Osaka in Japan.
Dr Kula is an avid software developer, who works on creating applications and data management systems to help tackle social challenges.
He was a co-creators of PNG's popular Yu Tok messaging application, which uses the Motu language.
While some have found distant success, many of the young local entrepreneurs see their futures in making a difference at home.
Mr Henao says they want to use technology to share information and education with everyone in PNG.
"They want people in the villages to have information that can help," he said.
"Whether it is diagnosing a sickness, they definitely want their nephews and their cousins to share the education experience by using tablets or phones.
"I see the industry having an active role in partaking in that information bridge reaching out to the rural community."