Local innovators succeeded in tackling waste management through digital technology
Three Malaysian startups were announced as regional finalists in the Alipay-NUS Enterprise Social Innovation Challenge (The Challenge) thanks to their innovative waste management solutions.
The finalists, BlueBee Technologies, FatHopes Energy, and Grub Cycle were selected for their ability to leverage digital technology to create environmentally sustainable solutions that drive positive impact and improve lives.
Launched in November 2018, The Challenge, jointly organised by the world’s leading payment and lifestyle platform, Alipay and the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore, NUS Enterprise, aims to identify and support the growth of startups in Southeast Asia that are using digital technology to build an inclusive society.
During the preliminary rounds, contestants from each country demonstrated how they used digital technology to solve challenges across a wide range of sectors. These include financial services, agriculture, health & wellness, education & training, food & beverage, energy & environment, logistics & transportation, and communications.
The Malaysia finalists were selected for the following projects:
BlueBee Technologies develops ERTH, an E-waste Recycling digital platform that offers competitive prices to buy end-of-life personal electronics such as PCs, laptops and smartphones from consumers in Malaysia for recycling. According to a 2019 United Nations Report, each year, approximately 50 million tons of e-waste are discarded, the weight of which is more than all commercial airliners ever made combined. Only 20% of the e-waste is formally recycled. The United Nations University predicts e-waste could nearly triple to 120 million tons by 2050 if nothing changes.
FatHopes Energy deploys Internet of Things (IoT) devices to automate waste cooking oil collection, and efficiently communicate to collection fleets for pickups and delivery to refineries for production into biofuel, which car owners can buy at a competitive price. Working with restaurants and F&B outlets, FatHopes ensures all the used cooking oil collected is solely used for the purpose of sustainable biofuel production. Every year, Malaysians consume hundreds of millions litres of cooking oil, and if not disposed properly, they will clog up the drains and pollute the water.
Grub Cycle develops digital platforms that help supermarkets, farms and restaurants reduce food wastage. On the platforms, users can find surplus food from supermarkets and farms at a discounted price. They can also find deals on the overproduced food from the restaurants. Not only does this help reduce food wastage, but also provides a solution for people in need to reduce the burden of increasing cost of living. So far Grub Cycle has reduced 7,000 kilograms of food wastage, which translates into RM 45,000 worth of savings for its users.
Speaking of the challenge, Geoff Jiang, Vice President, General Manager of Technology and Business Innovation Group at Ant Financial said, “Since its inception, the Challenge has received several hundred applications from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, and we are pleased to see so many teams utilising digital technology in innovative ways to solve some of the biggest societal problems in Southeast Asia.”
He further added, “We firmly believe that technology should be used to improve lives and look forward to supporting the future growth of these teams so that more people across Southeast Asia can benefit from their innovations.”
Finalists will also be eligible to join the 10×1000 Tech for Inclusion programme, jointly set up by International Financial Corporation (“IFC”), a member of the World Bank Group, and Alipay. The comprehensive training programme will support the cultivation of 1,000 technology experts in emerging markets from both public and private sectors over the next 10 years.
“Digital technologies have had a profound impact on the global economic landscape. They are spawning new firms and sectors and transforming business models in traditional industries. To ride on the wave of this digital transformation and make sure there are inclusive opportunities to all participants, we need a supportive environment for local innovations to flourish in Southeast Asia. This is why we are bringing together partners from across the region to identify and support the growth of local innovation,” said Professor Wong Poh Kam, Senior Director, NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, a division of NUS Enterprise.
In addition to receiving financial rewards to further their businesses’ social impact, the finalists will also receive mentorship and incubation support from NUS Enterprise for a period of three months. They will also enjoy access to its BLOCK71, an ecosystem builder and global connector community with co-working spaces in Singapore, Bandung, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Suzhou and San Francisco.