Smart Launches University Course For Young Tech Innovators

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Participants at SmartStart working on their innovative tech start-up ideas. KHMER TIMES / SUPPLIED

As part of the journey towards building the Kingdom’s digital future, Smart Axiata yesterday officially launched a new higher learning programme aimed to help young Cambodians develop their innovative ideas, with the goal of turning the best concepts into actual tech enterprises in the future.

“The ‘SmartStart: Young Innovators’ Programme’ is a nine-month university course aimed at young and aspiring undergraduates from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Institute of Technology of Cambodia, National University of Management and National Institute of Posts, Telecoms & ICT,” said Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata.

Hundt said in the future, the course will be offered in all universities nationwide. “SmartStart is initiated to inspire, nurture and enable technology-related business ideas to grow by unleashing the innovative potential of students and empowering them to realise these ideas through workshops and mentorship,” he said.

“We believe the young generation is the future and we want to unlock and develop their untapped ingenuity. SmartStart has been framed in such a way that it will not only give students the knowledge, but also the tools in terms of hands-on experience, mentorship and funding.”

Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron said SmartStart would help contribute to the ministry’s efforts of developing a knowledge-based society within Cambodia.

“On the eve of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterised by digitalization and automation, Cambodia’s young generation must equip themselves with ICT knowledge and skills,” he said. “I encourage young innovators from all four universities to take up this great opportunity with Smart throughout the next few months.”

Yesterday, five teams of young tech innovators won $4,000 each and six months of continued start-up support, after their business ideas were deemed the most promising at the final pitch event of the inaugural SmartStart programme.

The five winning teams are all that remain from the 30 original groups of university students having entered the programme. They will now enter a six month incubation period where their business plans will be further shaped and moulded into viable business ideas.

“Smart believes the young generation is the future and we want to unlock and develop their untapped ingenuity,” said Hundt. “I am very positive that this annual programme will continue to generate more ICT talent and resources towards achieving a digital Cambodia.”

The team that shows the most progress will be rewarded with a trip to Singapore, added Hundt.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.