Pre-2016 Press Releases 8 September 2011

ISIF grants program ‘kick-starts’ local innovation in the Asia Pacific

Local communities across the Asia Pacific region stand to benefit from work backed by an important new funding program. The Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF) has announced funding for 11 projects in eight countries, all awarded grants for their innovative approaches to extending Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to meet genuine challenges in the region.

These projects showcase diverse uses of ICT technology, such as mobile-based tele-healthcare, forensic investigation infrastructure, and localized high-performance email for telecentres, and even the establishment of a national high-speed backbone.

ISIF is a small-grants program, launched in 2008, aimed at stimulating creative solutions to ICT development needs in the Asia Pacific region. It provides targeted, accountable project funding, which plays a vital role in getting practical, grass roots and community-driven solutions off the ground.

ISIF is a partnership between the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Internet Society (ISOC), and the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), with generous support from the DotAsia Organization. The first round of funding occurred in late 2008 with the successful projects each receiving up to USD 30,000 to be used in 2009.

Following strict criteria, the Grants Evaluation Committee selected 11 successful projects and requested representatives from each to attend a proposal development workshop in Hyderabad, India. At the workshop they had the opportunity to modify their proposals based on feedback received from the ISIF partners and other workshop participants. They also explored simple networking strategies to help them establish effective collaboration among the projects. The resulting projects showcase innovation across a wide spectrum. They not only illustrate important research results, but equally, they help build research capacity within organizations.

As Michael Ginguld from Airjaldi Networks, India explains, “The evaluation process provided the environment needed not only to discuss the proposals submitted, share knowledge and perspectives about innovation in ICTs, but also to develop mutual trust and respect among the applicants and the ISIF representatives”.

ISOC Director of Education and Programmes, Karen Rose believes the 2009 ISIF projects have genuine potential to extend Internet access and improve the quality of life in economies across the region. “Enduring and sustainable progress in Internet development requires activities at the local level that engage people in their home regions. ISIF supports local organizations solving local issues. We see this as key path for Internet innovation and growth in the Asia Pacific region,” said Ms Rose.

ISIF’s first call for applications received an overwhelming response, with 148 applications coming in from 22 different Asia Pacific economies, including Bhutan, Mongolia, and Papua New Guinea.

APNIC Director General, Paul Wilson, attributes the excellent response the ISIF program received to the collaborative efforts of partners and stakeholders from throughout the Asia Pacific Internet community. “I am very thankful to all members of this community for their proactive promotion and support of this program. The success is an example of how the Internet community can collaborate effectively to promote growth and development in economies where markets or regulation struggle to support innovation,” said Mr Wilson.

Richard Fuchs, chair of the ISIF Grants Committee and Regional Director at IDRC, Southeast and East Asia announced the program will fund more projects next year. “Due to the success of the 2008/09 round of funding, ISIF partners and sponsors are pleased to confirm their support for a new round of funding for a 2009/10 ISIF Grant Program. We look forward to working with more organizations in the region to continue innovation into the future,” said Mr Fuchs.

As Gaurab Upadhaya from Nepal Research and Education Network (NREN), Nepal explains, “The ISIF grant gave us the kick-start funds necessary to get past the initial hurdles. It also let us design and develop the network with a big picture plan, rather than in a piecemeal fashion.”

In the next round, ISIF will support up to 10 projects with grants up to AUD 40,0000. The projects will be selected during 2009 to receive funding and implement their project in 2010. All the details of the new ‘Call for Applications’ are available on the ISIF web site. Applications should be prepared from April to July using the formats available and must be submitted through the online application form by 31 July 2009.

The ISIF program partners also call on other organizations through the region to consider providing financial support to expand the ISIF program. To support future ISIF activities, please contact Sylvia Cadena, Project Officer.

Details of the current projects, funded in the 2008 round, are also available on the ISIF website.

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