ASEAN Impact Challenge is a regional programme to discover innovators and entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia who are accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through cross-sector partnerships and scaling disruptive innovations.


The world is in the midst of a digital transformation, with 40% of the world population now connected to networks, up from 4% in 1995. In Southeast Asia too, the uptake of digital technologies has grown rapidly.

Digital transformation can help in changing the development paradigm towards growth driven less on the demand side by exports and more on the supply side by productivity increases, enabling countries to “move up the value-chain”. Moreover, it can help in addressing policy challenges such as the meeting of future energy, food and water needs, or improving the delivery of health and education services.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world. Technology has made possible new products and services that increase the efficiency and pleasure of our personal lives. Ordering a cab, booking a flight, buying a product, making a payment, listening to music, watching a film, or playing a game—any of these can now be done remotely.

This year’s challenge is themed ‘Tech Forward: Innovations for a Digital Economy’ and hopes to discover innovations from the citizen and private sectors that are contributing to the digital economy transformation in the region through the power of entrepreneurship and collaboration.

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The following tech related themes are crucial for technological development in the region. We are seeking to discover innovators and entrepreneurs that have innovations surrounding these focuses.

Technology being used to solve problems in agriculture, farming, and food production and distribution.

The use of living systems and organisms to develop or make products that help improve our lives.

Technologies and related business models that reduce waste and help businesses limit their negative impact on the environment.

Technology that is based on tangible engineering innovation or scientific advances and discoveries.

Digital technology used to engage learners in new and innovative ways and reduce the cost of teaching.

Production of clothing by implementing multiple fields together such as product design, science, medicine and technology.

Improving the out-dated technology and solving contemporary money problems, such as lending and consumer payment.

Areas of innovation around food processing, changing the properties of the food to improve it whether that’s in preserving it, enhancing its qualities or making it more functional.

Using technology to maintain and improve the health of users and solve problems within the industry.

Technologies that can help add value to the consumer, build brand loyalty, as well as identify and capitalise on new revenue streams.

The coming together of marketing, advertising, PR, and technology.

Solving problems around the buying and selling process and making the model more efficient and cost-effective for all involved.

Tightening the connection between online and physical retail, linking ‘bricks and clicks’

Developing technologies to help connect consumers and travel providers, offering more choice and more affordable options in real time.

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The Sustainable Development Goals were established by the United Nations to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. 

To ensure a holistic approach towards creating impact, the ASEAN Impact Challenge was designed to align with the Global Goals. Participating teams are encouraged to form their innovations to address at least one of the 17 Goals.

ASEAN Impact Challenge is a wonderful way for agencies like us to learn about social innovation designs and approaches on the ground, and for youth and social innovators to collaborate with like-minded change-makers from the various ASEAN countries, to tackle sustainable development challenges together.
Nan Li-Collins
Asia Pacific Lead, UNDP-UN Social Impact Fund
We were pleased to see the application of so much human potential from all the initiatives presented. The Challenge demonstrates the power of creating impact through social innovation across different disciplines, with the integration of technology.
Adanna Shallowe
Global Manager, RSA


Impact Hubs are where change goes to work. Part innovation lab, part business incubator and part community centre, we offer our members a uniques ecosystem of resources, inspiration and collaboration opportunities to grow impact. We believe a better world evolves through the combined accomplishments of creative, committed and compassionate individuals focused on a common purpose. With a global footprint of 105 cities, and 20,000 members in 60 countries, Impact Hubs are uniquely positioned to help entrepreneurs scale to markets globally.
Impact Hub KL’s mission is to catalyse and drive innovation through collective impact. By working with ecosystem supporters in every country in Southeast Asia who each share our mission, we hope to catalyse a movement of global innovators who will impact the future of business, the future of work and the future of cities.