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Innovate Like a Swede contest launched

Released at: 14:13, 20/09/2017

Innovate Like a Swede contest launched

Photo: Embassy of Sweden

Contest aims to encourage Vietnamese university students to innovate for sustainable development.

by Le Diem

The Swedish Embassy in Hanoi has launched the nationwide “Innovate Like a Swede” contest, to inspire sustainable development in response to the many challenges Vietnam faces in terms of climate change and sustainable development. The purpose of the contest is to encourage Vietnamese university students to be innovative and adopt solution-based thinking that is sustainable and creative and has a positive future impact.

The contest will be an annual event that allows participating students to identify sustainable solutions to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a Vietnamese context. This year the competition focuses on SDG No. 12, Responsible Production and Consumption, and will inspire Vietnamese students to be innovative and find tangible solutions to reaching the goal.

Reaching the SDGs is a high priority for Sweden and the embassy targets promoting these values in Vietnam and encouraging an exchange of knowledge and ideas between the two countries, according to Mr. Johan Alvin, Second Secretary at the Embassy. Innovation and cooperation across borders and sectors is a key aspect in reaching a sustainable present and future.

It is also crucial to engage future leaders and the innovators of tomorrow to create a context where sustainable solutions are preferred. That is why Innovate Like a Swede is so important. It merges Swedish innovative capacity and the knowledge of well-established international companies with the young and creative minds of Vietnamese. “Vietnam faces many challenges, but with these challenges there is also an opportunity to be innovative and to think outside of the box,” Mr. Alvin said. “This is something that we want to encourage through Innovate Like a Swede.”

The contest is open to students in years one to five at universities nationwide. Open until November 11, entries can comprise anything from completely new ideas or possible products, services, and solutions that contribute to sustainable production and responsible consumption. They can also be technical solutions or can also be ideas.

A jury consisting of representatives from Swedish companies and universities in Vietnam will judge the entries on the basis of feasibility and commercial viability, the degree of innovation, and the potential level of impact. The winning team will be rewarded with a study visit to Swedish companies’ regional headquarters in Singapore next year. Runners-up will receive internships at Swedish companies in Vietnam.

Appreciating the support from Sweden over many years, especially in education and health, Mr. Pham Quang Hung, Deputy Head of the Ministry of Education and Training’s International Cooperation Department, said the contest is a chance for participants to show their scientific creativity and will be a rewarding experience for the students.

Sweden is an innovation leader on its own merits. It invests heavily in research, encourages critical thinking from an early age, and is open to international influences. It also has a long tradition of creative and tenacious scientists, business leaders, and entrepreneurs who are keen to change the world. Today’s innovators stand on the shoulders of giants. Entrepreneurs and innovators such as Alfred Nobel, Lars Magnus Ericsson, and Gustaf Dahlén paved the way for the many powerful international companies that have been crucial both to Sweden’s economic development and to the Swedes’ self-belief. Similarly, some of today’s innovators, such as Niklas Zennström (Skype), Petra Wadström (Solvatten), and Daniel Ek (Spotify) are prime role models for the next generation, both in terms of innovation and global responsibility.

One of the Swedish Government’s key priorities and one of the major tasks for the world as a whole today is to fulfill the SDGs by carrying out the so-called 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed to by all UN members. The SDGs and the 2030 Agenda seek to end poverty and hunger, realize the human rights of all, achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. The SDGs are integrated and indivisible, and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental.

In order to reach the SDGs, innovation is a key asset. Sweden’s strong tradition in this field, in both academia and industry, along with its commitment to the 2030 Agenda, gives it a strong position in this regard. Sweden can use this to also help and influence others, to lead by example.

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