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Seedstars Seeks Applicants for Smart City Solutions in Sihanoukville

SIHANOUKVILLE: The port city of Sihanoukville has undergone massive changes in the last two decades and will continue on this path according to a joint statement in February by Cambodia and China, who plan to turn the city into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone” (SEZ). As Cambodia’s only deep-water port and with the new expressway connecting it to Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville is in need of innovative solutions to ensure that its development is sustainable and focused on the specific needs of the city. Its rapid development as a major transportation and tourism hub has promoted the city as a candidate for the Smart Cities Innovation Lab (SCIL), a collaboration between Seedstars and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The initiative is accepting applications from innovators and entrepreneurs with smart (technology-based) solutions to address the city’s growth.

Smart cities, also known as “resilient” or “sustainable” cities, leverage technology and data to improve the quality of life for their residents in providing more efficient work-life opportunities to individuals, ensuring economic growth and creating sustainable living environments. There are many smart city initiatives being enacted globally, such as the ASEAN Smart Cities Network which includes Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, however Seedstars differentiates itself by connecting entrepreneurs, governments and stakeholders in the private and public sectors.

“We are taking a more holistic approach toward enabling smart city solutions on a policy and regulation level,” said Mr. Anurag Maloo, Regional Director of Asia-Pacific for Seedstars. “We will have the government and municipality helping us and [then] work with local innovators and smart city solution providers [which] provide the knowledge and expertise to the city. [Then we] help implement these solutions by bringing together all the stakeholders in order to ensure that the solutions are able to impact people’s lives in a positive way.”

With new technology being used across industries for limitless applications, Mr. Maloo highlighted specific tech being used in other smart cities which could be used to Sihanoukville’s advantage, including Internet of Drones (IoD) sensors which collect data on everything from traffic flow to air quality to waste management. With global fuel costs rising, smart street lighting and energy management for buildings can be implemented to improve energy consumption efficiency and to increase public safety. Artificial Intelligence and virtual reality are also being used to provide citizens with more real-time information and provide “virtual tourism” experiences.

According to Sihanoukville deputy governor Long Dimanche, the Ministry of Environment is collaborating with local authorities to implement a mobile app to collect data on garbage disposal as well as using smart parking technology to help relieve growing traffic congestion.

Additional solutions and coordination are needed, however, to promote Sihanoukville to the level of a smart city. The city has three priorities to address: tourism, waste management and transportation management.

 “Startups [need to] address the smart city priorities of Sihanoukville [which are] smart waste management, tourism and effective transportation management,” said Mr. Maloo. “So if the startups are catering to these three smart city priorities of Sihanoukville in Cambodia, we would love to talk to them.”

Seedstars partnered with UNESCAP will be funding more than 45 startups in Southeast Asia and anticipate 5-6 per city. Those accepted into the program can expect funding, marketing and access to mentorship from industry leaders.

“Our range of activities [includes] working with the talent at the bottom of the pyramid, accelerating the ventures and tech solutions and then helping them with their growth journey by investing into those companies,” explained Mr. Maloo, “So, in the entire spectrum of an entrepreneur's journey, we support them from the seed stage through the growth and expansion stage.”

The Smart Cities Innovation Lab is offering the opportunity for entrepreneurs to submit their Sihanoukville Smart Solutions through 3 April on their website where you can find more details on the criteria for submissions. Apply at: https://seedsta.rs/SCIL2023 .



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