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APEC App Challenge 2021

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 APEC App Challenge logo

14 May - 6 June 2021

Bring your best ideas to the 2021 APEC App Challenge to Support the Tourism Sector
And Get People Moving Again




How can APEC’s software developers support the tourism sector post-COVID-19 and Get People Moving Again?

APEC’s software developers have incredible ideas and the technical skills to support the post-COVID recovery and sustainability of the region’s economy. A joint initiative of the APEC Secretariat, The Asia Foundation and Google, the 2021 APEC App Challenge will focus on supporting the recovery of the APEC region’s tourism sector as COVID-19 vaccination efforts make local travel more practical. The tourism industry is a key sector in nearly all of APEC’s 21 member economies and is essential to economic recovery post-pandemic.

Participation in the APEC App Challenge is open to citizens from all member economies, and will be conducted virtually. Participating teams will build apps that help reintroduce the APEC region to tourists and encourage people to “get moving again” with safe and enjoyable local travel.



Build products that help people in the APEC region rediscover the joys of travel.

Travel opens up opportunities for learning, adventure and cooperation. Among others, the tourism sector supports jobs for baggage handlers, flight crews, hotel staff, restaurant workers, and guides. Tourism was the first sector to get hit by the pandemic and it could be the last to recover. There’s much work to be done. Digital tools can help open the sector more quickly.

The 2021 APEC App Challenge will help tourists understand their options in the post-COVID period and discover travel that they can TRUST, that they believe can be undertaken SAFELY, and affords them FLEXIBILITY. Developers can help consumers rediscover local tourism options in new ways that help the sector recover while keeping travelers happy and healthy. App Challenge participants will build new mobile and web tools that address these issues, using a range of different digital technologies.


As vaccination efforts in many parts of APEC are underway, travelers are searching for familiar and predictable travel opportunities. Interest in domestic and regional vacations as well as experiences that involve the outdoors is on the rise, and the tourism sector will need to adapt during this period of recovery. Clear information and communication will be even more important to travelers, and apps that help them understand their options will be key.

In addition, these solutions must be crafted in ways that address the broader challenges users may face when using internet-enabled mobile technologies. These challenges include maintaining safety and security online, providing ethical and context-sensitive user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design, respecting data privacy, and ensuring accessibility for people living with disabilities.

A detailed challenge statement will be released when the event opens.


Eligible teams must be composed entirely of citizens of the APEC economy that they are representing in the challenge. We recommend that teams consist of two to six individuals.

Participants will retain full ownership of the products they create during the App Challenge. However, under the terms of the challenge, APEC will have specified usage and branding rights.

Submitted applications will be evaluated based on their relevance and added value, technical competence, understanding of the target users and general problem areas, willingness and ability to take a product to market, and willingness to conduct independent user research and analysis.

Detailed rules and requirements are posted here.


Deadline: 14 May, 11:59 PM (Singapore time)

Individuals interested in participating in this challenge should register by submitting an application with their bios, photos and names of their teammates. Reviewers may contact registrants to request further information, if needed. In case you don’t have a teammate, we’ll help you to form a team with someone in your economy.

To register, fill out a brief form here.

2. Start the Challenge

17 May

The App Challenge will officially begin on 17 May. Registered teams will receive more detailed challenge statements as well as other informational resources to help them refine and implement their ideas. The Asia Foundation will host an orientation call to introduce the rules of the challenge, submission requirements and judging criteria.

3. Submit Final Products

27 May

Teams will submit their final apps for judging on 27 May. In addition to sharing a link to a working web app or downloadable application file, teams must create a short (one to two minute) video demonstrating their newly completed products. The apps and videos will be reviewed by a panel of judges, who will select up to five teams to proceed to the selection and award session in June.

4. Prize ceremony

5 June

Final prizewinners will be honored during the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting on 5 June.

5. Going to Market

June to November 2021
All finalists are encouraged to continue to refine their products and eventually take them to market.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are there any in-person components of this event?
The 2021 APEC App Challenge is the second to take place entirely online. There are no in-person meetings this year, and no travel is required.

2. Is there any technology restriction?
No, you can build with any technology that you’re familiar with. However, submissions that can rapidly deploy and scale up will be given greater consideration. For this reason, products that effectively integrate with or are built on top of existing platforms and tools may be preferred over products that attempt to "reinvent the wheel."

3. Does my entry have to be a new app?
Yes. You may start building your app only after the start of the APEC App Challenge. You may make use of preexisting platforms or Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for specific functions of your app, provided that your submission to the App Challenge provides novel and significantly different functionality than what is provided by the basic platform or API.

4. Are teams restricted to six members only?
Yes, teams are capped at six members.

5. Is this event restricted to developers only?
Teams may include developers, designers, marketers, data scientists, and/or anyone else who can help you build a great app. However, since this is ultimately a software development competition, successful teams will have enough engineering and design talent to ensure a high-quality final product, and not just a great pitch.

6. Do pitches and videos have to be in English?
Yes, all pitches to the judges must be made in English. Videos in other languages must be subtitled in English.

7. How do I form or find a team?
You are encouraged to form your team of two to six people in advance of the challenge and participate in the event together. If you register as an individual, you may be matched with other like-minded applicants from your economy before the challenge officially starts.

Awards & Prizes

This is an important project with the potential for real impact during a global crisis, so we encourage teams to participate from across APEC. We also acknowledge the investment of time and energy that teams will dedicate to this effort, so the 2021 APEC App Challenge will award ten prizes to teams with the best ideas and vision. Participants will demonstrate their work before a panel of expert judges who will select winners. The top five teams will receive cash prizes of:

  • USD4000 for the first-place team
  • USD3000 for the second-place team
  • USD2000 for the third-place team
  • USD1000 for the fourth-place team
  • USD500 for the fifth-place team

Other fun and interesting prizes will be announced closer to the date of the event.
The first prize winners will be recognized at an APEC event in June of 2021 at APEC’s Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting, alongside senior leadership from the government of New Zealand and the APEC Secretariat. Like the rest of the APEC App Challenge, this will be a virtual event.




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