Success stories of 2017 Innovation Seed Grants

As we are approaching Cambodia ICT Camp 2018, we reflect on last year’s Mekong region wide camp. In 2017, five projects were selected from the Lower Mekong Region to receive funding from the Mekong ICT Camp called ‘Seed Grant Innovation Funds’. Among the winners were educational programs from Laos and Myanmar, a nature education program in Thailand, a school electrification project in Vietnam, and a revolutionized lost and found system in Cambodia. Beyond their geographic and topical diversity, these projects span a breadth of methodological approaches. One shared attribute of these projects is that they all sought to leverage technology in innovative ways to solve problems facing their communities.

For example, our Cambodian winners from last year’s camp created CAM Lost and Found app. The project team identified the sad and sadly common experience of losing something important, such as your keys, wallet, or phone and sought to design a technological solution. The App, a platform connected to Google Maps, allows users to pin lost or found belongings. The seed grant innovation funds provided from the Mekong Camp 2017 gave the opportunities to the designers to enter the testing phase – in which a small group of users were able to assess flaws and evaluate the app’s functionality. Through this testing phase, the group was able to iterate and refine their final product. Losing your items may seem like a simple yet incorrigible problem, but this team was able to produce an innovative and eloquent solution to a problem that every Cambodian faces.

Another project wanted to educate youth in Myanmar to understand Citizenship. They hoped this understanding would lead students to become active participants in diverse communities and contribute to peace building efforts. They created their curriculum and delivered it to students in a blended learning model, which combines traditional classroom and online learning. Rather than implementing a pure online system, the group elected a mixed methods approach because it more easily integrates into the existing educational system and learning culture in Myanmar. With the help ICT Camp funding, CCEducare Myanmar launched their first class and had over 50 students sign up for their 15 available spots. This year, CCEducare Founder, Chit Aein Thu, will return to speak to camp participants about her experiences.

Like the team from Myanmar, a Laotian group looked to use technology as a way to improve learning outcomes. Instead of focusing on citizenship education, the group created a platform that teaches its curriculum through interactive content and visualization. This new way of learning allows students to grasp complex topics more easily.

Another project, Float in Flood, identified the problem of limited electricity in rural areas of Vietnam. Their project rectified this problem through sustainable energy production. Through field research, they discovered that the target area was too foggy and rainy for solar energy to be a viable energy source. Therefore, the group pivoted their focus to wind energy. Through the installation of 10 wind turbines, the group provided electricity for two primary schools in rural Vietnam. The impact of their project is greatly appreciated by the teachers and students who no longer have to worry if they will be able to learn on foggy, dark days in their village.

Our last team took an interesting approach to nature education. The Mekong Nature Camp created a program for Thai students to appreciate the natural and social importance of the Mekong river. The camp was a two-day experience where participants listened to lectures, took a boat trip, communicated with locals along the Mekong, and conducted their own scientific experiments. The camp taught the history of the river, its economic importance, and the environmental abundance that the Mekong offers. Students used scientific methods and technologies to conduct community mapping exercises, test for water quality, and map the Mekong’s natural resources. You can see their vision come to fruition in the recap video of the first Mekong Nature camp.

These are the innovative solutions that were chosen last year to receive funding for their bright ideas. This year, we are selecting three projects from within the Kingdom that utilize the same passion for solving social and environmental problems, innovative and creative nature, and vision to leverage technology as a driver for a viable solution. Next week, participants will learn how to identify problems, design solutions, and promote the use of technology in those solutions.Being the first organizer for Cambodia ICT Camp, Open Development Cambodia is so excited and cannot wait to see what ideas our participants come up with for taking in Cambodia ICT Camp Innovation Fund 2018. Get ready for an incredible week of learning, networking, mentoring, and applying those lessons.