In mid-May, the curtain came down on the Asia-Pacific Social Innovation Summit (APSIS) and Asia Pacific Social Innovation Partnership Award (APSIPA). The two-day jamboree of thinking outside the box, scheduled for southern Taiwan’s historic Tainan City, took into account the necessity to limit the social interaction. All events, with the exception of the market place, were switched to online form three weeks before the event. My personal thanks to the organizers, Tainan Sprouts, for a prompt realignment, as well as all of the speakers, participants and staff, for ensuring a successful event.

At the summit, the winners of the APSIPA were revealed. Submissions from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Cambodia won awards. The jury special prize with the subject Human-Oriented encouraged people-oriented social innovation collaboration cases to promote the physical and mental health of human beings in a new life form. This reflected the theme of the Summit: “Asia Neonormal.”

Think Playgrounds, a Vietnamese team devoted to establishing an urban playground space for adults and children, was one of the winning submissions employing unique and practical social innovation concepts. Although Vietnam has a fast-paced economy, there is a severe lack of public space suited for children’s activities. As a result, Think Playgrounds, based in Hanoi, collaborated with a variety of communities, businesses, architects and designers to turn useable areas into child-friendly venues like community parks and playgrounds.

In Vietnam, Think Playgrounds has 1,000-plus volunteers and more than 200 entertainment locations. From a consumer demand standpoint, activating idle space reaffirmed the immense value of social innovation as an agent of positive change. Given the stresses stemming from the pandemic in the last two years, there is a growing desire for public space from all corners of society. This is comparable to the inclusive playgrounds Taiwanese groups continue to push.

Another shining example of a social coordination prize is Phare, a Cambodian Circus from Cambodia. The art school is committed to cultivating local Cambodian talents, offering a diverse performing environment and career possibilities, as well as aiding socioeconomically disadvantaged children and young adults. Since establishment in 2013, Phare has served an average of 1,000 pupils each year and assisted over 10,000 families in three towns. Profits from circus shows go towards supporting the development of essential training and support initiatives.

This year’s award-winning Taiwanese applications are equally impressive. Among the winning lineup are 800 Gold, which focuses on the recovery of the mainstream region; Xusi Joint Stock Company, which targets women’s physiology; Cathay Bank, which assists social innovation organizations in obtaining loans; Tasteme, a coalition platform reducing food waste; and SERT, Taiwan’s first public welfare trust to invest in social innovation organizations. The Asia-Pacific Social Innovation Cooperation Award has long recognized the achievements of industry specialists from various international community innovation intermediary organizations. These homegrown undertakings today boast world-class status as a result of root-and-branch support for applications.

The APSIS “Cheer up Asia” will be held in northeastern Taiwan’s Yilan County next year to promote local culture and related community-based experiences. Its unashamed objective is taking Taiwanese culture to Asia and the Indo-Pacific. Individuals and groups interested in attending and applying for next year’s conference and award are strongly urged to do so. Let us stand together in cheering up Asia!