The National University of Management in Phnom Penh just launched its new Social Innovation Lab which is part of the EU funded South-East Asian Social Innovation Network (SEASIN) with additional support being provided by the telecom SMART Axiata. The SEASIN network includes partner universities from Europe (Scotland, Spain and Portugal) plus South-East Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia).
The Social Innovation Lab will serve as both an events space for presentations and interactive workshops and also as an incubator to help develop and launch new social ventures. While the primary target is university students, the NUM Social Innovation Lab is also open to the wider social enterprise community. A maker space will also be available within the Social Innovation Lab, which will include both 3D printers and VR equipment, so that students and outside community members can work to develop physical and virtual prototypes.
The NUM Social Innovation Lab will also serve as the main training venue for the National Business Model Competition which is an annual entrepreneurship competition open to all university students in Cambodia and focusing on startup ideas related to the following 5 sectors: Technology, Medical, Education, Agriculture and General Business. The National Business Model Competition is also affiliated with the regional Mekong Challenge, which was launched in 2006 in partnership with the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and also the International Business Model Competition in the U.S.
Starting in March, Demine Robotics which is currently part of the Accelerator Program at the University of Waterloo in Canada, will also set up a satellite office at the NUM Social Innovation Lab. Their robotics technology is currently being tested in Cambodia to help remove landmines in the country. Demine Robotics, whose co-founder is Richard Yim, a Cambodian-Canadian engineer and entrepreneur, is a former winner of the Business Model Competition Canada so it was via the International Business Model Competition that NUM was able to connect to their startup and develop this unique partnership.
Stephen Paterson is the Dean of NUM International College and Co-Founder of Mekong Business Challenge