Phnom Penh, 14th March 2018: Following the great success of last year’s inaugural SmartStart: Young Innovator Program where 30 teams of around 120 university students developed their tech ideas with expert support and additional funding, Smart Axiata is calling for fresh applicants for the second edition.

Once again, Smart together with Impact Hub Phnom Penh will help young Cambodian university students refine their innovative ideas, with the goal of turning the best concepts into actual digital products and tech enterprises in the future.

Over the nine-month program, the initial group of chosen teams will be whittled down to five – each receiving 4,000 USD and a 6-month funded incubator program with expert mentorship at Impact Hub. The team deemed to have made the most progress will win the Grand Prize: A Tech Trip to Singapore to meet with technology giants Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

“In our first year, we saw many great ideas coming from students of eight universities. This year, we are opening applications to all universities throughout Cambodia. I am really excited to see what the next batch of students will bring to the table,” said Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt.

“With support from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Impact Hub, our development partners as well as the mentors of Smart, I am confident that SmartStart Cycle 2 will raise the bar in terms of what future technopreneurs can achieve,” Thomas added.

Last year’s winning team, GoSoccer, who developed a digital platform for the booking and management of football pitches across Phnom Penh, is all set to go on their Singapore Tech Trip at the end of this month.

“We had always found booking fields to play futsal such a challenge but didn’t know how to turn this idea into a product. With the fantastic support received during the SmartStart program and the 4,000 USD cash funding, our team of five were able to realize our vision and create something we think will make people’s lives easier,” explained Sovann Lyhour from GoSoccer.

For Alberto Cremonesi, CEO of Impact Hub Phnom Penh, the partnership with Smart on initiatives like SmartStart will help develop the next generation of digital talent in Cambodia.

“It is amazing to see how far the SmartStart teams have progressed over the last few months; some of them have even gone on to represent Cambodia at other regional competitions. We are looking forward to the journey with the next batch of young innovators!” said Alberto.

Young and aspiring undergraduates are welcome to apply online at smartstart.com.kh. Interested students can also attend information sessions this week at the National Institute of Posts, Telecoms and ICT (NIPTICT), National University of Management (NUM), Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), and Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center to gain better understanding on SmartStart.

The SmartStart program is one of many ways in which Smart is engaging young Cambodians to boost participation in the Kingdom’s tech space and to push the creation of homegrown tech applications. Besides such Tech Innovation programs, Smart also supports Education, Community Sports and Environmental initiatives across the country as part of its sustainability agenda.

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