A hybrid solar drier for food processing, a cloud farm that incorporates big data, a vehicle-sharing app and pictures made from banana stems were among the winning projects at an international entrepreneurship camp for university students.
At the end of July, 42 students from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam brought their innovative projects to China’s Qinghai Province, where the Mekong River, known as the Lancang River in China, originates.
With a start-up fund and mentorship from professionals, some of these projects are expected to reach the market in the next two years.
Fudan University proposed and initiated the Youth Innovation Competition on Lancang-Mekong Region’s Governance and Development (YICMG). It is followed by the sub-project Lancang-Mekong Youth Training Camp for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The winning projects from the competition are improved through discussions with mentors at the camp.
“This is a very good program,” said Xayphone Kongmanila, the program’s judge from the National University of Laos, told Shanghai Daily.
“We get to send out students to compete with those from five other countries and they have the opportunity to have their project taken to the market.”
Two projects from Laos, one of which is an Uber-like app that incorporates different kinds of vehicles, won start-up funding.
The competition is held at one of the six countries every January, while the camp brings students to the river’s starting point every summer, to share their innovative ideas and also experience the unique local culture of Qinghai Province.
The students not only share a mother river but also a social responsibility for their local communities. Their projects help the poor.
The competition and its various sub-programs have been embraced by all participating countries since it started, growing rapidly.
To continue and deepen the cooperation, the Lancang-Mekong Youth Exchange and Cooperation Center has been opened at Fudan University, while a youth training camp was unveiled in Qinghai.
The eight participating universities from the six countries signed a memorandum vowing to expand collaborations in cultural exchanges, academic cooperation, youth entrepreneurship, cross-country social practices, and university think tanks through the newly opened exchange and cooperation center.
“We, from the six countries along Lancang-Mekong region, are connected through mountains and rivers, culturally intimate with each other, share similar histories and dream of the same brighter future,” said Jiao Yang, chairperson of Fudan University Council.
“Since the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation framework was established, partnerships between different countries in the region have grown increasingly stronger, while cultural and youth exchanges have improved leading to many achievements.
“I hope our efforts can contribute to the sustainable development of the region, comprehensive partnerships along the Belt and Road initiative, and co-building of a community for a shared future for mankind.”