SINGAPORE - Robots made up of chopsticks, a smart Braille keyboard and wastewater filters made of coconut husks were among projects on display by youth entrepreneurs at a summit on Wednesday (July 6).
The robots are the pride and joy of local youth start-up Stick 'Em, a 10-member team that aims to bring robotics to children at one-tenth the cost of traditional robotics kits.
A few of the Stick 'Em team members were among more than 250 young people across the Asia-Pacific gathered in Singapore for a summit aimed at discussing solutions for current issues, such as climate change.
The Youth Co:Lab Summit, in its fourth iteration, is being hosted in Singapore for the first time. The last in-person summit was held in Hanoi in 2019.
The two-day event, which started on Wednesday, is organised by Citi Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme, in partnership with the National Youth Council.
It is being held at Shaw Foundation Alumni House in Kent Ridge and features panels on climate action and the role youth entrepreneurs can play in developing solutions for the community.
Co-founder of Stick 'Em, Mr Adam Huh Dam, 23, said he and his team members were excited to be at their first international summit as they are eyeing a larger market beyond Singapore.
The first-year student at Singapore University of Technology and Design said: "We are using this opportunity to gain global context and... learn what is needed in other countries so that we can better serve their needs."
He said the start-up has sold products like their chopsticks robotics kits to 700 children across three primary schools, two secondary schools and organisations such as the Singapore Red Cross.
He added that in the next five years, he hopes his small team would have made inroads in the global market.
Speaking at the summit, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Alvin Tan said: "Our youths, over the last few years, have really faced many different challenges, and they will face even more challenges. But where there are challenges, there are opportunities."
He said that young people are natives of the digital platforms from which their enterprises and ideas can see fruition.
He added that they can make an impact in areas such as climate change and support for the vulnerable.
Ms Thary Vorn, a panellist on a discussion about youth and climate action, said society can tap the ideas of youth when it comes to climate solutions.
The chief executive and co-founder of Cambodian wastewater management enterprise SUDrain said: "The role of young entrepreneurs is really important. They have amazing creativity and they have a lot of ideas, they need more space for their voices.
"There needs to be more support, not only financially, but through mentoring and networking, so that they can collaborate with each other across borders too.
"Climate issues don't just affect one country, we have to work together to find solutions."