Encouraging Innovation in Social and Development Challenges in Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam

A cutting-edge partnership USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia (USAID/RDMA) initiated with Microsoft Thailand to engage young innovators to apply technology to address major development challenges.

Microsoft Imagine Cup

In 2014, USAID’s investment of $35,000 leveraged four times that amount from the private sector and led university students from across Thailand to develop mobile apps to enhance food security, increase use of public transportation, address governance issues and combat stigma around HIV/AIDS.

This USAID/RDMA partnership builds on the longstanding Microsoft Imagine Cup, a well-known global student software development contest. Applications developed for the competition have the potential to help overcome global challenges and/or be turned into a successful business. The global competition spans a year and culminates in the World Finals, which this year will be held in Seattle in July.

Under this partnership, USAID/RDMA defines country-specific challenge areas. USAID staff and implementing partners then share USAID’s knowledge and networks as they mentor young, innovative Imagine Cup competitors.

Since 2003, more than 1.6 million students from more than 190 countries have participated in the Imagine Cup around the world. For the 2015 Imagine Cup, USAID/RDMA engaged bilateral missions in Indonesia and Vietnam to extend this low-cost partnership with Microsoft and students.

In Vietnam, the mission identified small and medium enterprise support and information access, health, environmental protection, disability, higher education, disasters, climate change and weather as contest priorities. USAID staff members have participated in student outreach events to encourage participation.

In Indonesia, Imagine Cup organizers held student roadshows that reached over 8,000 students at 86 universities on themes including governance, integrated pest management, climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation and clean energy. They also encouraged students to come up with additional themes aligned with the mission’s country development cooperation strategy, which includes improving essential services like education, health, water and sanitation.


  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

    Funding Agencies
    United States | Staff size: Unknown

    USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.

    U.S. foreign assistance has...

  • Microsoft Corporation

    Service Providers, Development Consulting
    United States | Staff size: 10,000+

    Microsoft provides support to communities in three ways: technology skills training, strengthening nongovernmental organizations through technology, and engaging our employees in their...

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Key Information

LocationEast Asia and Pacific, Thailand, Indonesia, Viet Nam
  • Start Date 2014
ValueUSD 200 Thousand