Development Innovation Open House: Designs To Solve

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with the Development Alternative Incorporated has launched the Development Innovations project: a three-year activity designed to help increase the use of technology for social change in Phnom Penh today.

The Development Innovation Lab was officially opened on 18th March 2014 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Development Innovations Lab will work with local partners and Cambodian’s community of innovators to respond the challenges faced by civil society organizations. One of their key objectives is to inform and educate the public by creating a space to foster technological solutions to these problems. With improved access to information and educational content, Cambodians will have the tools they need to improve their own lives.

USAID Mission Director Rebecca Black said Development Innovations would provide Cambodian innovators and entrepreneurs the support they need to create products to reach across the country. As such they have developed a tool kit that includes innovation labs, volunteer programs, learning events, interest and working groups networking opportunities, training curriculum, grant funding, a talent development program, an innovation resource center, and a mentor network.

“Cambodia’s emerging technology sector and the increasing use of technology by its youth hold great promise for improving the impact of those working for the development of Cambodia,” said Greta Greathouse, Chief of Party of Development Innovations.

This was particularly evident in the events from the Expo and Demonstration Program, which saw a range of innovators across age and nationality in attendance.

One of the youngest teams present was a group of middle-school students from Liger Learning Centre who had recently learnt how simple robots were programmed.

With that knowledge, the team managed to win a spot at the Robotics Competition in Singapore and clinched second place.

Arc Hub, another event highlight, is one of the companies that provide 3D printing solution in Cambodia.

3D Printing can make prototypes for new products and architecture models made from plastic all from the convenience of a specialized printer.

There were many workshops opened in the labs and event floors for participants to pick their favorite topics and attend with personalized interest. We chose to attend a code concept workshop, Hour of Code, conducted through an online site: http://learn.code.org.

The website provides a 20-hour course introducing the core computer science and programming concepts, proving that code is fun to learn at all ages.

In conclusion, the Development Innovation Lab is an incubator of solution that works with local tech community, civil society organizations and others to facilitate problem solving that lead to innovations. By working with local partners, Development Innovations hope to catalyze those ideas and to facilitate collaboration and partnership amongst the civil society organizations, the techies and others who will turn those ideas into workable solutions. USAID hopes that Development Innovation’s lasting legacy will lead to growth of the community of innovators with the capacity to use technology, and will work together to improve the impact and pace of development in Cambodia!

Edited by Cally Cheung