The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) are organizing a contest seeking technology ideas around the issue of food security.
Youth in Southeast Asia has been called on to help boost regional food security by contributing their innovative technology ideas through a competition titled “YSEALI World of Food Innovation Challenge.”
According to a press release wired on Monday by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, the contest will collect innovative technology solutions to some of the region’s most complex challenges in the fields of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries.
The competition launch follows President Barack Obama’s announcement of the YSEALI Innovation Challenge at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Sunnylands, California.
As a component of YSEALI, the U.S. government’s flagship initiative for engaging with youth in Southeast Asia, the Innovation Challenge will help promote and strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.
"Innovation is the key to economic growth. From what I have seen of young people in the region, ASEAN has an abundance of entrepreneurial and innovative talent," said Nina Hachigian, U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN.
"Throughout my travel in the region, I have met with impressive young leaders who are engaged, passionate and motivated. I know that the future for ASEAN will remain bright because of them, and their innovations will tackle the region's challenges."
The Innovation Challenge targets multi-disciplinary teams of students – such as those studying in the fields of agriculture, business, computer science, engineering, food science and other related disciplines – and who are currently enrolled in post-secondary technical vocational education and training (TVET) institutions or universities.
The YSEALI World of Food Innovation Challenge is being implemented by the USAID Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training program and the USAID-managed ASEAN-U.S. Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable and Sustainable Development and Security project in partnership with technology giants Cisco and Intel.
“By matching innovative students with leaders in industry, we set the stage for successful approaches to learning and scaling up great ideas that matter to all of us,” said Beth S. Paige, director of the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia.
“Partnering with the private sector is the way to get this done, and we are looking forward to seeing this collaboration flourish.”
Teams of students from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are asked to pose innovative technology-based solutions that address the issues including sustainably managing and reducing waste and loss in the aquaculture and fisheries industries over the next 10-20 years.
The range of solutions to submit also include increasing labor productivity and/or yields in the agriculture sector over the next 10-20 years, improving the adaptation capability of Southeast Asian food producers to the effects of climate change, and demonstrating an understanding of businesses’ needs in the selected areas.
They are required to be low cost, practical, and able to be fabricated in regional countries and maintained locally.
Ten semi-finalist teams will fly to Singapore to participate in a boot camp-style training program hosted by Cisco and Intel Corporation to realize their solutions.
The grand prize for the top three teams will be a study trip to technology hubs in the United States and a visit to Washington, D.C.
To join the challenge, register as a YSEALI member and apply at yseali.state.gov.
For more information, contact: Challenge@MekongSkills2Work.org.