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The Five Coolest Things in ASEAN Right Now

As one of the fastest growing regions in the world, ASEAN is home to many young entrepreneurs and pioneers across a variety of fields, and here are some of the innovative projects and programs to catch the eye in recent weeks.

Digital Opportunity Opens Up the World

Digital innovation has opened a “world of opportunity” for small businesses, and attracting more SMEs to make their mark online was the goal of the innovative APEC APP Challenge, held in Hanoi on May 18 and 19.

Eleven teams of software developers, from APEC member countries, gathered to meet the challenge of designing a new app to benefit SMES in the region – SME’s make up around 95-99% of total businesses in ASEAN. First place went to the team from Australia for their winning design APEC Connect, an online platform which aims to help small businesses register and grow a global export footprint.

Awarding Women Science Innovators

The ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women was launched in May to recognise the vital contributions to science development made by female scientists in ASEAN.

Through this, the U.S. Mission to ASEAN, alongside the US Agency for International Development, aims to recognize the achievements of women working in the biotech, microelectronics, infotech, material science and technology industries developing projects to mitigate the effects of rapid urbanisation in the region. The winner of the prize will receive US$20,000 in prize funds, and help promote the vital role of women in scientific research in the ASEAN region.

Fuelling the Future with Cassava

Researchers in Thailand are innovating their way towards fuelling the future with recent breakthroughs in cassava-based biofuel. The government backed research agency, Thailand Institute of Science and Technological Research, has discovered a process to convert cassava into a commercially-viable biofuel, which has the potential to deliver a cheap source of biofuel for the future.

As the world’s largest cassava producer, producing over 33 million tonnes each year, Thailand is well-placed to maximize this green fuel opportunity. A pilot production plant, located north of Bangkok, will produce the biofuel, and continue to explore its commercial potential.

A Belt, a Road, and Huge Investment

What could potentially become the world’s greatest ever infrastructure project took an additional step towards reality recently, with the Belt and Road Summitheld in Beijing this May. ASEAN heads of state were in attendance alongside leaders from around the world.

Reports estimate that China is spending roughly US$150 billion a year across 68 countries invested in what many have dubbed the ‘New Silk Road’.

The Belt itself will see the old Silk Road of intercontinental land routes to Europe undergoing huge development, while a new “maritime Silk Road” opens up the world’s oceans to increased global trade. The full scope of the project will impact around 65% of the global population, one third of global GDP, and routes along which roughly 25% of global goods are transported.

Anyone for a Supercar?

Finally if we’re talking cool, what’s cooler than a supercar? A supercar vending machine of course! Singapore decided to dive deeper into the rabbit hole of innovative decadence with the world’s largest supercar vending machine.

This shining beacon of modern-day dreams can hold up to 60 high-end vehicles, from Bentleys to Ferraris. Like buying a can of soda from a vending machine, customers can simply wander in to the car center, pick up a tablet with a specially designed app, select their vehicle, make payment, and a few minutes later drive off in the supercar of their dreams!

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