A duo of engineers from Thailand emerged as winners of the 2022 APEC App Challenge, held on the eve of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Bangkok.
Palakon Kotchapansompote and Peerawit Tungwongsin stood out among a field of 28 developers from across the Asia-Pacific region with an app that can help reduce food waste.
The pair created [email protected], a digital tool designed for consumers and restaurant owners that offers healthy meal choices from local, high-value producers and suggests quality meals. Users can take a photo of food in their fridge, upload it on the app and receive suggestions of healthy alternatives based on what is available.
The winning app successfully met this year’s challenge by demonstrating a new and exceptionally creative digital solution that helps to promote inclusive growth and the bio-circular-green (BCG) economy – a vision that Thailand is promoting as part of its recovery strategy towards more inclusive, balanced and sustainable growth.
“The world as you know, at the moment, is faced with issues of sustainable development, issues of climate change,” said Thani Thongphakdi, Chair of the APEC 2022 Senior Officials. “The App Challenge is very instrumental in encouraging the youth to play a more pivotal role in society, in development, and how to draw and use digital technology.”
“This is really an innovation for us to engage with the youth, to show how technology can be used to bridge development gaps,” said Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat.
In its sixth year, the 2022 APEC App Challenge invited young developers and digital entrepreneurs from across the region to build new mobile and web tools that can help promote growth among APEC’s eco-friendly, small and micro-agricultural farms and entrepreneurs in the sustainable agri-food business.
APEC 2022 host economy Thailand founded the competition theme on a key priority for the forum this year: “Balance in all aspects,” with a focus on engaging the whole of the society and using innovation as a key driver.
Fourteen developer teams from 12 economies – Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; the Philippines; the United States; and Viet Nam – took part in the competition.
“Every year, the APEC App Challenge showcases the incredible talent that we have around the region,” said Scott Beaumont, President of Google, Asia-Pacific, which provided support to the initiative.
“They are not only coding solutions but they are mentored on how to create a business model, how to create social value, how to address marginalized communities and how to convey a winning message that can expand the project region-wise,” said Rodrigo Balbontín, from Technology Programs at The Asia Foundation, another App Challenge supporter.
“The App Challenge is just a beginning. We also need to provide an avenue for the developers to grow their ideas,” concluded Dr Sta Maria.
For the APEC App Challenge winners, the award marks the conclusion of an intense 24-hour coding competition in Bangkok during which they finished their new app then pitched it to a panel of judges from APEC; The Asia Foundation; Google; as well as the alumni network of APEC App Challenge participants, Digital Makers Asia Pacific (DMAP).
The winners accepted the award in front of trade ministers, delegates and media on the last day of the APEC MRT meeting.
Expressing their excitement at the outcome of the challenge and the future of their product, Palakon Kotchapansompote said, “We will seek somewhere to get support and hope it becomes really big, that it can actually help people.”
Second prize went to Agri Automations, created by Michael Bauer and Matt Cabanag from Australia, a tool that diagnoses crop diseases by uploading a photo on a mobile phone. Third prize went to Daanish Husain and Brandon Him from The United States, who developed Sprout, an app that connects and groups farmers in order to increase revenue by creating scale.
The APEC App Challenge is a joint initiative of APEC Thailand and the APEC Secretariat, with support from The Asia Foundation and Google.
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