USAID and YSEALI Challenge Youth to Innovate for Food Security

Youth in Southeast Asia can now help boost regional food security by contributing their innovative technology ideas through a new prize competition announced today by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiativer (YSEALI).

The YSEALI World of Food Innovation Challenge will collect innovative technology solutions to some of the region’s most complex challenges in the fields of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries. The competition launch follows President Barack Obama’s announcement of the YSEALI Innovation Challenge at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Sunnylands, California.

As a component of YSEALI, the U.S. government’s flagship initiative for engaging with youth in Southeast Asia, the Innovation Challenge will help promote and strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.

“Innovation is the key to economic growth. From what I have seen of young people in the region, ASEAN has an abundance of entrepreneurial and innovative talent,” said Nina Hachigian, U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN. “Throughout my travel in the region, I have met with impressive young leaders who are engaged, passionate and motivated. I know that the future for ASEAN will remain bright because of them, and their innovations will tackle the region’s challenges.”

The YSEALI World of Food Innovation Challenge is being implemented by the USAID Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training program and the USAID-managed ASEAN-U.S. Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable and Sustainable Development and Security project in partnership with technology giants Cisco and Intel.

“By matching innovative students with leaders in industry, we set the stage for successful approaches to learning and scaling up great ideas that matter to all of us,” said Beth S. Paige, director of the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia. “Partnering with the private sector is the way to get this done, and we are looking forward to seeing this collaboration flourish.”

The Innovation Challenge targets multi-disciplinary teams of students – such as students in agriculture, business, computer science, engineering, food science and other related disciplines – who are currently enrolled in post-secondary technical vocational education and training (TVET) institutions or universities. Teams of students from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are asked to pose innovative technology-based solutions that address the following issues:

  • Sustainably manage and reduce waste and loss in the aquaculture and fisheries sectors over the next 10 – 20 years;
  • Increase labor productivity and/or yields in the agriculture sector over the next 10-20 years.
  • Increase adaptation capabilities of Southeast Asian food producers to the effects of climate change;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of businesses’ needs in the selected area; and
  • Are low cost, practical, can be fabricated in country and can be maintained/repaired locally.

Ten semi-finalist teams will fly to Singapore to participate in a boot camp-style training hosted by Cisco and Intel Corporation to assist the teams to develop their solutions. The grand prize for the top three teams will be a study trip to technology hubs in the United States and a visit to Washington, D.C.

To apply to the Challenge, visit:

For more information, contact: