From Maker to Market! The USAID BUILD-IT & Dow Vietnam STEM Program connects entrepreneurship and engineering

August 19th, 2022, Ho Chi Minh City – Today, USAID BUILD-IT Program and Dow Vietnam hosted their 4th annual investor-style pitch competition, Maker to Entrepreneur (MEP): Venture Demo Day under the framework of the USAID BUILD-IT and Dow Vietnam STEM Program, for over 100 engineering students and guests from across Vietnam. Young engineers gathered to compete for a total of $1,000 in start-up funding. The business savvy demonstrated by the students exemplified how engineers can use market forces to scale their innovative projects into in demand products.

The 14 student teams from top engineering technology universities in Vietnam developed their innovative projects during the EPICS program to provide engineering solutions for real world problems including supporting the vulnerable, sustainability, agricultural productivity and social welfare improvement. Carrying their innovations onto the Maker to Entrepreneur program, the teams advanced their EPICS projects into viable products and shared their early market traction at Venture Demo Day. The program brought opportunities for students to improve independence, creativity, determination, business savvy, and communication skills to take their idea from inception to complete the pitch deck and present to the judge panel.

During Venture Demo Day, a panel of industry judges from Dow Vietnam, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Business Startup Support Center (BSSC), Lead the Change, and Heramo scored the students on their product’s market demand. The students demonstrated how engineers can learn to use market forces to prove that their early-stage products have market demand. The judges were impressed by the customer feedback, evidence of demand, and students’ capacities and commitment to scale-up innovative solutions to make the world a more inclusive and sustainable place. Team from HCMC University of Technology (HCMUT) won the 1st prize for their project in  stress-relieving tea products that not only reduce stress, and superior anti-insomnia but also helps customers "return to natural sleep", without causing side effects. Teams from HCMC University of Technology and Education (HCMUTE) and Danang University of Scince and Technology (DUT) took home the 2nd and 3rd prizes respectively for their projects in the heart rate monitoring device supporting heart patients with stroke and a project developing a jacket for autistic students.

For the fourth year in a row, the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Building University-Industry Learning and Development through Innovation and Technology (BUILD-IT) Alliance, implemented by Arizona State University, partnered with the Dow Vietnam STEM Program have joined forces to bring industry-linked applied projects in innovation, entrepreneurship, and research to undergraduates across Vietnam. Dow Vietnam has contributed fund project materials, industry mentoring, innovation prizes, and competition logistics. The year 2022 marks Dow 125th anniversary of relentless innovation, growth and evolution with the outlook of another 125 years of sustainable development ahead. With the sustainability targets to reduce carbon emission, stop the plastics waste and close the loop, Dow continues the partnership with BUILD-IT to inspire Vietnamese students with innovation and entrepreneurship. Applied projects not only develop technical know-how, but they also cultivate the 21st-century skills that graduates need to thrive in work and life. Mr. Nguyen Hoai Son, Dow Vietnam’s Vice President, shares, “At Dow, our approach to innovation starts with collaboration and the spirit of doing better to enhance sustainability, performance and productivity. With that in mind, we are very delighted to partner with USAID BUILD-IT Program and related stakeholders to implement STEM Program to inspire students with innovation and entrepreneurship by utilizing technical skills and innovative ideas to design, build and develop prototypes to address the community challenges. More importantly, the program also helps them gain the confidence and capacity to lead engineering and to commercialize their solutions to the potential customers.”

The USAID BUILD-IT Alliance is a public-private partnership founded to support world-class engineering programs for work-ready graduates in Vietnam. Implemented by Arizona State University, the Alliance has over 16 industry partners and 11 Vietnamese university partners.  BUILD-IT has leveraged more than $7.6 million dollars in industry contributions to support its university partners in revamping their curricula, adopting new learning technologies and projects, further developing their teaching and leadership capacity, and achieving international accreditation. These transformations assure that Vietnamese graduates develop both the technical and soft skills needed to drive Vietnam’s growth for decades to come.

Some photos from the event:

Mr. Ekkasit Lakkananithiphan - President of Dow Vietnam giving opening remarks at the event


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