On Oct. 5, four out of twelve startups have been announced as regional winners of the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) at its Asia selection, hosted by the LCY Education Foundation in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. They will then proceed to MIT to vie for the four final grand prizes of the competition.
Based at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE), the Challenge offers cash prizes to entrepreneurs across the world who have come up with solutions of four categories, ranging from skills development to financial inclusion, to empower those who are left behind by tech progress.
Twelve teams had been selected this year as regional finalists in Asia, one of the five regions where the ICC holds selection event. After pitching their ideas to a live audience, four regional winners were further chosen by the selection panel of regional leaders: Youth4Jobs (job matching and skills training platform for underprivileged youth), NaTakallam (online learning platform that matches refugees and language learners), Innovision (e-learning device for the visually impaired), and Asia Initiatives (digital currency to promote the social good).
The regional finalists come from various parts of Asia: India, Pakistan, Tonga, Myanmar and Lebanon. Through hosting this event, the LCY Education Foundation said it hopes to "bring global aspects into Taiwan" and "put Taiwan's talent on the global stage."
In fact, due to the change in demographic structure, there emerge a number of social issues in Taiwan that need to be addressed innovatively, including eldercare, rural education, and indigenous employment. The solutions from the regional finalists, the foundation believes, present an alternative way of thinking to tackle such issues.
Devin Cook, Executive Producer of the IIC, told Business Next that she feels "a real sense of optimism" in Taiwan. People believe they're able to transform their life if they use technology in a meaningful way.
"The excitement and focus on innovation and entrepreneurship that we've seen in Taiwan make it a perfect place to host the IIC," she added.