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Students gather to explore solutions to address issues of the elderly and people with disabilities 

19 Jul 2022
AIT webmaster

By Office of Public Affairs

Students from various universities, including AIT, shared their innovations to provide solutions to the problems faced by the elders and people with disabilities in a ‘digitalized time’ at the SDG Open Hack Bangkok 2022, organized from July 1-3, 2022 at the AIT Entrepreneurship Center. 

Aiming to address the aging society’s needs and improve the lives of people with limitations, the event’s theme was “Digital Solutions for the Wellness of Elders and People with Disabilities.” Jointly organized by the Department of Development and Sustainability, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), and the University of Geneva in a Hybrid Mode (online and onsite at AIT Entrepreneurship Center), the event saw the participation of 14 teams from different universities around the world.

Launching the event, AIT President Dr. Eden Woon highlighted AIT’s efforts toward achieving SDGs and emphasized AIT’s goal to contribute to sustainable development in the region. He added, “In the past couple of years, global focus, including ours, was diverted to COVID-19. I am happy to see that, through events like these, we are re-aligning our focus on pertinent issues such as SDGs and Social Innovation”.

Sharing the event’s goal, hackathon organizer Prof. Nophea Sasaki of AIT stated, “The world is gradually becoming more dependent on modernization, innovations, and technologies. However, it has been challenging for the elderly and people with disability to adopt these changes. As we gradually move towards an aging society, we must find solutions to support them and improve their lives. This event is a platform for students and professionals interested in developing sustainable solutions to existing problems”.

The advancement in digital technologies, large data, and adoption of UN SDGs creates ample opportunities to address these problems. The SDG Open Hack aimed to introduce talents in the mentioned fields to provide digital solutions to these matters. It provided a chance for teams to collaborate and use their knowledge, skills, and technologies to construct a digitalized solution to solve complex issues in a limited timeframe. 

“The winners are granted an opportunity for incubation in the AIT Entrepreneurship Centre, potentially culminating into start-ups that can address these pertinent issues,” Prof. Sasaki added.

Talking about the hackathon, Dr. Thomas Maillart of the University of Geneva expressed appreciation for co-organizing a first-of-its-kind event in Thailand in collaboration with AIT. He suggested the participants and mentors use the hackathon as a platform to generate, share and experiment with ideas and innovation. He added, “When you go into an open innovation adventure, the whole idea is that your project will begin by building communities and people you meet through various mediums and the support you get.”

The speakers and mentors included Mr. Renaud Meyer, UNDP; Ms. Punchaya Raksasakul, KITFORWARD Company; Prof. Dieter Trau, AIT; Dr. Mustaq Memon, UNEP; Mr. Tad Hatchaleelaha, Join and Coin Corporation; Prof Anil Kumar Anal, AIT; Ms. Afroditi Anastasaki, UNITAR; Mr. Ekkamol Phaetthayanan, Thailand Association of the Blind (TAB); Dr. Thomas Maillart, University of Geneva; Prof. Matthew Dailey, AIT and Prof Nophea Sasaki, AIT.  

Hacking solutions during the event focused on five major issues:

Solutions for healthy food: How digital technology and innovation can advise or improve the eating behaviors of the elders and people with disability.

Solutions for healthcare: How digital technology and innovation can advise or improve the health of the elders and people with disability or create convenience for access to the appropriate healthcare services.

Solutions for communications: How digital technology and innovation can advise or improve the communications of elders and people with disability with society, especially relatives and friends.

Solutions for transportation: How digital technology and innovation can improve access to public and private transportation services for elders and people with disability.

Solutions for daily exercises: How digital technology and innovation can keep them healthy through daily and yet discipline exercises.

The solutions were judged by a panel consisting of Ms. Stephanie Chuah, University of Geneva; Prof. Dieter Trau, AIT; Dr. Nantanoot Suwannawut, World Blind Union- Asia Pacific; Dr. Mustaq Memon, UNEP; and Dr. Thomas Maillart, University of Geneva.

“This is our first partnership with a European University. Collaborations can help attract students from around the world, and we could become a hub for South Asia. I am confident if we continue in the right direction, we will succeed in inspiring students and promoting talents”, Prof. Sasaki added.

A total of 14 groups participated in the program, and several received prizes.

Incubator Prize: Technovation Prize and Popular vote: Beautiful Life Champion- ShiatsuOne 

· Supasin Jiraprakobchai and Aiman Lameesa (AIT)

· Navid Bin Ahmed, Independent University Bangladesh

· Nafia Islam Faria, Bangladesh University of Professionals

· Nhoung Polin, PPIU. 

Incubator Prize: Social Impact Prize – Rose & Navy

· Rajasurang Wongkrasaemongkol (Kajonkiet International School)

· Tatchapong tamnomsuk (Thammasat University) 

· Atichat Anuppakansang

· Jatesada Prawalpatgool

· Plaidech Pradeswisat

Incubator Prize: Wellbeing Impact Prize- Banananadudes

· Pantakan Bunleang (KMT)

· Napacha Mahadumrongkul (Chulalongkorn University)

· Thanakrit Trongmahavisate 

· Jessada Pakotiprapha (Thammasat Univeristy)

· Pakinee Sivasen

Incubator Prize- Sustainable Innovation Prize: Pakko

· Sunny Kumar Tuladhar (AIT)

· Sunsun Kasajoo 

· Arti Shrestha 

· Amanda Raj Shrestha 

· Tin Panthong 

· Nichapa Doungkeaw (Bangkok University)

Popular vote: Elder Wellness Champion- GraTeMan

· John Benedict L. (University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines)

· Bernardo Marylene Eder

· Jerwin S. Borres

· Kevin Y. Namuag 

AIT has been participating in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking in SDGs, which considers factors such as research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching to determine the rank of each institution. The Impact rankings include tables for each SDG, as well as an overall ranking – drawn from universities’ performance in their best three individual SDG categories, combined with their performance in the compulsory category of SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals. This year AIT participated in 13 of them and ranked in the Top 100 in 4 and 100-200 in 6.