Startups tapped to rescue disaster-prone ASEAN region
MANILA, Philippines — When natural disasters strike, can innovative startups help us recover? Can they help reduce the risks of calamities?
From crowdfunding platforms to drones, chatbots, and artificial intelligence, emerging startups in ASEAN are leveraging on their existing technologies and business models to solve the region's most urgent problems through a competition called "Startups to the Resque."
The competition was organized by QBO Innovation Hub (QBO), the Philippines' first public-private initiative for startups by Ideaspace, J.P Morgan, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of Trade and Industry.
"Startups to the Resque" is also in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF).
Butch Meily, president of QBO and PDRF, said they relied on the spirit and dynamism of the youth to bring new ideas to the table when it comes to disaster resilience and recovery.
Towards a disaster resilient region
Because of its location, ASEAN member-countries regularly experience a variety of disasters including typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.
Due to climate change, the frequency and intensity of these calamities have increased and is expected to increase even more in the coming years.
For one, Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) which is among the world's strongest storms caused 6,300 deaths and P95.48 billion damages in the Philippines in 2013.
"Climate change and disaster risks are real threats to people and development – and we have seen this repeatedly in the last decade not just in the Philippines but across the region," said Titon Mitra, UNDP Philippines Country Director.
According to the 2016 World Risk Index by the United Nations University's Institute for Environment and Human Security, 4 of the 10 ASEAN member-states, namely Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, and Vietnam, are at a very high risk and high vulnerability.
Here are the top 20 startups of the competition:
- ChatbotPH - a chatbot development company in the Philippines
- After Effect - a Thailand-based startup specializing in artificial intelligence
- SkyEye Analytics - a drone startup doing land surveying, disaster mitigation, precision agriculture and forest protection
- GavaGives - fundraising platform for non-profit organizations
- LifeMesh - a software that uses blockchain to connect humanitarian organizations to communities and to foster transparency and accountability
- Ascendant Technologies - a software development company specializing in healthcare digital systems management
- Senti - social media analytics startup focusing on understanding Filipino culture
- Tralulu - digital marketplace for travelers and local guides
- StyleGenie PH - startup offering styling subscription box in the Philippines
- Cropital - crowdfunding platform to help finance farmers
- Timba - an Indonesian social enterprise that promotes sustainable living
- Billionbricks - a Singapore-based non-profit design and technology studio working on shelter solutions for vulnerable communities
- ServeHappy Jobs - online job marketplace for food service professionals
- Pushkart.ph - an online grocery delivery service
- UPROOT Aquaponics - aquaponics enterprise that aims to alleviate hunger, poverty, and malnutrition
- Blogapalooza - a startup that connects businesses to bloggers and influencers
- Haraya Labs - a company teaching STEM education to K-12 students using virtual reality
- Frontlearners - e-learning content developer and e-school solutions provider
- Go Gridless - a B2B wholesaler of off-grid technology solutions
- Unomap - a digital identity solution provider that digitize individual identities into a decentralized model
Startup community integration
The startups will pitch their ideas on October 20 at the Slingshot ASEAN 2017, a regional startup and innovation conference hosted by the Philippines as part of its ASEAN Chairmanship this year.
Slingshot will serve as a platform for startups, innovators, investors, academe and government from the region's 10 member states to engage and connect.
ASEAN is the seventh largest economy in the world. Collectively, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has a GDP of $2.4 trillion.
The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) estimates that the region suffers an average of US$4.4 billion direct economic losses from disasters annually.
The first prize winner of the competition will receive US$10,000 and will have the opportunity to implement their solutions with UNDP and PDRF. Second and third prize winners, on the other hand, will receive US$4,000 and US$2,000, respectively. – Rappler.com