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The concept of the Humanitarian Emergency Logistics and Innovation Expo (HELiX) did not come naturally to the AHA Centre. HELiX started as a part of the DELSA Phase II project – a continuation and expanded version of DELSA, a programme that has been implemented by the AHA Centre since 2012. Initially, the concept of HELiX was simply to provide a discussion forum for logistics experts in ASEAN. However, the AHA Centre saw an opportunity to expand HELiX into a marketplace for ideas to support the improvement of humanitarian logistics in the region, bringing in experts from both the commercial and non-commercial sectors. What began as a simple idea about a forum turned into the most ambitious virtual series of events conducted by the AHA Centre to date.

One of the newly included ideas was iPITCH, an innovation-pitching competition aimed at promoting available innovations to solve the humanitarian logistics challenges of the ASEAN Member States and humanitarian communities in the ASEAN region. The idea for iPITCH originated from pitching competitions conducted by investors or technology companies for new and emerging start-ups. Similarly, the AHA Centre sought to use HELiX as an opportunity to select the best innovations in humanitarian logistics and introduce them to a broader audience of potential users and investors. iPITCH adopted three start-up stages of innovation – Ideation, Prototype and Scale-up – as categories in the competition. What made IPITCH unique was that the ideas submitted should answer challenges in the ASEAN region in terms of humanitarian logistics and supply-chain management.

The process of iPITCH started with a call for ideas from innovators in the ASEAN region and beyond. The AHA Centre then invited eight selected ideas to be presented in the Final Pitch on 25 May 2021. The innovators of the eight selected ideas came from academic and research institutions, humanitarian organisations and the private sector. On the panel of judges were representatives from the ASEAN Member States, the Government of Japan as a donor for the DELSA Phase II project, Angel Investment Network Indonesia (ANGIN) and the Temasek Foundation as supporting partners of HELiX, as well as the AHA Centre.

From the eight pitches, the competition was narrowed down to three ideas selected as winners in the Final Pitch. Fleet for Emergency from FleetHelp from Indonesia, a software engineering company based in Indonesia, won the Opal Award as the winner in the Ideation category. The team described Fleet for Emergency as an integrated platform that aims to effectively manage and maximise the speed of emergency fleet operations. The platform uses descriptive and predictive analysis to assist humanitarian organisations in managing and facilitating relief aid distribution.

Next, winning the Sapphire Award in the Prototype category, was the team from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) from the Philippines, with their idea titled the Padayon Donation Matching App. Deriving from the team’s first-hand experience during the eruption of the Mount Taal volcano in the Philippines in January 2020, the application aims to help the management of donations by connecting donors with the deserving recipients during emergencies, in order to avoid discrepancies in donation distribution. This idea also won for the AIM the audience’s vote and the team took home the Diamond, or Community Choice, Award.

Last but not least was the Logistics Institute Asia-Pacific (TLIAP GO) team from the National University Singapore (NUS) with their idea THINKLog – Humanitarian Logistics Mode, which won the Ruby Award as the winner in the Scale-up category. Quoting from their description, ThinkLog is a board game designed as an expandable interactive learning framework for logistics and supply-chain management. As a learning framework, the game has been developed to cover different scenarios, concepts and challenges in logistics. The game aims to complement teaching and learning activities in classrooms and workshops by introducing supply-chain management concepts through role-playing and simulation.

The introduction of these innovative ideas will hopefully widen the options for the ASEAN Member States and humanitarian communities in the ASEAN region in solving their humanitarian logistics challenges, increase logistics preparedness and ease actual logistics operations during emergencies. In the end, the AHA Centre expects iPITCH to be a trigger for more discussions and collaboration to promote innovations in humanitarian logistics.

HELiX itself is not over yet. A virtual software-hacking competition titled AHAckathon will be held in October 2021 as the next item on the agenda to bring out more ideas and innovations to support humanitarian logistics in the region.

Written by : Caroline Widagdo