Bangkok, 29 November 2019 – The Future Ready ASEAN competition that has been running since September has reached its final stage today. Following a 3-hour hackathon that took place yesterday at UNESCO, three teams from Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines were selected as winners by the competition’s judges. The ASEAN Foundation, Microsoft and Empire Code together with Grab and UNESCO as competition hosts proudly presented the winners of Future Ready ASEAN competition:
- Team from Indonesia, consisting of Alifa Rizki Rahmarani, Rizky Andre Wibisono and Hadziq Fabroyir as mentor, took first place at the competition. They developed a web application that focuses on Green Transportation.
- Team from Lao PDR, consisting of Douangdala Khamphanthong, Anousack Khotavong and Syhalath Chalouphone as mentor, became the first runner-up. Their web application touched on Agriculture.
- Team from The Philippines, consisting of Gem Nichole Robino, Roanna Ellise Abesamis David and Janine Micah Balatbat Vicente as mentor, emerged as the second runner-up for their web application on Climate Change.
A total of 9 teams representing Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam participated in the hackathon, where they were tasked to develop the frontend interface for a Facial Recognition application. These regional finalists were selected from a pool of 229 applicants. The three teams emerged as winners because of their creativity, solid coding structure, visual appeal, effective call-to-action elements, and a good understanding of the competition theme, which is sustainability in ASEAN.
“The three winning applications are excellent examples of how far we have come and how much further we can go with the right technologies in the right hands. They represent the aspirations of our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet through technology,” Dhanawat Suthumpun, Managing Director of Microsoft (Thailand) Limited, said. “In just a matter of hours, these teams managed to build and design fully functional web applications that can help spread the message of sustainability to people all across ASEAN and the world. We look forward to seeing them continue their digital skills journey with a wealth of resources available from us and our partners, and we cannot wait to see what they will create in the future.”
The Future Ready ASEAN competition was one of the key activities of ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme, a partnership initiative by the ASEAN Foundation, Microsoft and Empire Code that recognises the importance of equipping underserved youth, especially underserved girls, with skillsets that will help them to thrive in the industry 4.0 and unleash the region’s full potential. In order to achieve its goal, the programme combined a digital competition approach with the Future Ready ASEAN website, an online platform that enables youth to learn digital skills through a unique learning journey, and training of trainers. Since its inception 8 months ago, 532 educators and nearly 25,000 youths, with 50% of the beneficiaries girls, have been empowered by the programme through the combination of these three interventions.
Dr. Ratthasart Korrasud, the Senior Executive Vice President of Digital Economy Promotion Agency, emphasised the importance of having a platform such as the Future Ready ASEAN Competition. “In today’s digital economy, we are all driven by digital technologies and platforms, and are interconnected. Therefore, the key to national success requires the citizens of all age and gender to keep up with the technological changes. In the next three to five years, the change will double its pace; as you can see today that new jobs such as data scientists and block chain developers are in high demand like never before. This has set an example of how ‘talent gap’ is widening, and will continuously do so due to the pace of technological change. Nowadays, the most important step for us is to drive the new generation towards improving themselves with the right support. For instance, in education, we must transform the traditional way of teaching (reciting from textbooks) into preparing the students’ mindset for future changes. Education must involve more practices, trials-and-errors, and opportunities for work experience with both small and big organizations. The main objective is to foster a ‘growth mindset’ that will allow students the ability to learn on their own as they go out into the ever-changing world. With these goals in mind, DEPA will collaborate with the public and private sectors to bring suitable Digital Manpower development to the new generation and ensure their learning success,” he said.
This statement is also echoed by UNESCO. “UNESCO, through its Education, Science and Communication and Information sectors, is promoting digital literacy including digital skills as a life skill. Indeed, their mastery and acquisition encompass acquisition of ICT user skills, e-Business skills and ICT professionals’ skills essential for the transition to Industry 4.0 and society 5.0. UNESCO is also working in promoting women and girls in STEM sectors including ICT to “fix the leaky pipe” and encourage the participation of more women who represent still only 30% of the ICT workforce and 6% of CEOs of tech firms. Therefore, UNESCO is honoured to participate in this programme and effort for ASEAN undeserved youth, and in particular female youth,“ UNESCO Regional Science Bureau Director stated.
“As part of the Future Ready ASEAN initiative, we deployed on the ground master trainer trainings in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to empower ASEAN youth with the language of our future. Hundreds of master trainers were equipped to train on students with the initiative proving to be a huge success as tens of thousands of youth in the region were empowered within a short span of 6 months. Our “all can code” philosophy is real and we wish to thank our ASEAN youth for helping us advocate it,” Jasmine Tang, Co-Founder of Empire Code, said.
Apart from the impact to its beneficiaries, the ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme also serves as a perfect evidence of what can be achieved when entities that have the same visions, missions, and understanding of youth’s importance as future leaders, join hands to accelerate youth development in the region. Elaine Tan, the Executive Director of ASEAN Foundation, echoed this sentiment by saying, “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Microsoft and Empire Code for embarking on the journey of the ASEAN Digital Innovation Programme with us from the beginning. This programme is important for us not only because it embodies our vision and mission as an ASEAN organ, but also because it showcases the importance of public and private partnership for youth development in the region. I am also very grateful for the support given by Grab and UNESCO throughout the implementation of the Future Ready ASEAN Competition—it perfectly encapsulates the spirit of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability,” which happens to be the core theme of Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2019.”
Tarin Thaniyavarn, Grab Thailand Country Head further stated that, “We are excited to be part of the Future-Ready programme with the ASEAN Foundation and our strategic partner Microsoft. This programme is proof of the innovative talent that is available in the region and as part of our Grab For Good programme, we are committed to leverage innovations in technology, our platform and partnerships, to drive greater social, economic and environmental impact across the region. This is very relevant for Thailand as we are working towards Thailand 4.0 – to do exactly this – to transition and prepare the next generation for high value-added and technology-intensive services.”
Following the announcement of winners, a talk show around women in tech was also organised at today’s event. The talk show, which was opened for public, brought together Thiraya M Thiranakanat, the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of CareerVisa Thailand, Thisana Thitisakdiskul, the CEO and Co-Founder of noburo.co, and Tanya Suvadee, the Country Public Affairs Manager, to talk about how they harness science, technology, engineering and mathematics to build sustainable businesses, cities and societies.