APEC App Challenge logo

UPDATE March 11, 2020: The APEC App Challenge has been postponed to a later date in 2020 in Malaysia. Developers who apply via the form below will receive email updates as new information becomes available regarding the dates and venue of this year's App Challenge.



How can APEC’s software developers serve aging communities?

In 2017, about 10% of the population across APEC was aged 65 and above. This percentage will increase to 25% by 2050. During APEC in 2020, many high-level discussions will take place concerning this trend, and “Smart Living for an Aging Population” has been highlighted as a priority area for policymakers and trade officials. As the 2020 APEC Host Economy, Malaysia aims to continue promoting and mainstreaming efforts across different APEC fora to leverage technology and policies that benefit the region’s growing senior community.

The 2020 APEC App Challenge will require participants to use their software development and design skills to seek technology solutions that fit within the APEC Malaysia 2020 theme and its priorities. The “silver economy” – an expanding market for goods and services catering to the growing number of elderly across Asia – presents opportunities for young innovators to develop exciting new digital products and services. Teams are encouraged to develop their own ideas and innovative solutions with an emphasis on creative, age-sensitive, mobile apps that are easy to understand and highly usable. The team with the most compelling application will be awarded first prize and considered for additional support and recognition.


Build products that help elderly people live healthier and more productive lives

The 2020 APEC App Challenge will help empower the aging society, enrich their lives, and promote their general wellbeing. App Challenge participants will build new mobile and web tools that address these issues, using a range of different digital technologies.

Developers who take on this challenge will craft solutions that address the following questions:

  • Health and independence: How can mobile apps promote the health and independence of elderly populations?
  • Productivity: How can mobile apps help engage the elderly in activities that contribute to the economy?

In addition, these solutions must be crafted in ways that address the challenges older people face when using internet-enabled mobile technologies. These challenges include addressing a lack of digital literacy; maintaining a high degree of online safety and security; addressing user experience issues such as a lack of familiarity with modern UI/UX design and gesture-based interactions; and bridging gaps that arise due to hearing impairment, vision loss, and other age-related issues.


Eligible teams must be nationals and/or residents of APEC economies. Teams must consist of two individuals, and team members may not be replaced after selection as finalists. All finalists are required to present in Malaysia for the App Challenge.

Finalists will retain full ownership of the products they create during the App Challenge. However, under the terms of the challenge, APEC will have specified usage and branding rights.

Participants do not need to define or build any part of their intended solution at the time of application. However, applicants will be evaluated based on their technical competence, understanding of the needs of elderly users, willingness and ability to take a product to market, and willingness to conduct independent user research and analysis.

Detailed rules and requirements are posted here.


Individuals interested in participating in this challenge should form teams of two and submit an application to The Asia Foundation with their CVs and links to past work. Reviewers may contact applicants for an interview.

To submit your application, fill out a brief form here: https://forms.gle/TK8nXDYNjTb2er5ZA.

2. Selection

A select number of the most qualified teams will be chosen as finalists, and will begin a period of preparation and research ahead of the App Challenge. Our evaluation rubric evaluation equally weighs 1) technical competence 2) entrepreneurial drive and 3) communication skills.

3. Ideation

Before the App Challenge begins, finalist teams will be expected to define the specific "pain point(s)" their solution will address and their overall product vision. The vision should be justifiable based on existing data or the finalists’ own interactions and discussions with prospective users. Finalists will receive support throughout this "ideation" phase from The Asia Foundation team.

4. Hackathon

Finalists will travel to Malaysia with all travel, lodging, and incidental expenses paid by The Asia Foundation. During the 24-hour App Challenge event, finalist teams will work to complete their ideas.

5. Pitches

Finalist teams will demonstrate their newly completed products for a panel of judges and an audience that will include APEC policymakers up to the ministerial level, as well as entrepreneurs and development actors from around the region.

6. Going To Market

All finalists are encouraged to continue to refine their products and eventually take them to market. The winning team will receive support from The Asia Foundation and Google to pilot their product with users.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will the event in Malaysia be?

The event is anticipated to last two full days, including orientation and pitching. A more detailed schedule will be shared prior to the event.

Are flights and accommodation covered?

Yes, we will provide round trip tickets between your city and the event location, transfers from the airport to the event venue, and accommodation for up to three nights during the event.

Is there any technology restriction?

No, you can build with any technology that you’re familiar with. However, submissions that can rapidly deploy and scale up will be given greater consideration. For this reason, products that effectively integrate with or are built on top of popular e-commerce platforms and tools may be preferred over products that attempt to "reinvent the wheel."

Does my entry have to be a new app?

Yes, you must build the app starting from the time you are confirmed as participants in this APEC App Challenge, not before. You may build the app on top of an existing, general platform or API, provided that your submission to the App Challenge provides novel and significantly different functionality than what is provided by the basic platform or API.

Why is this called an 'app challenge' instead of a 'hackathon'?

Unlike a typical hackathon, we allow participants to start designing and building their app before coming to Malaysia, starting from the moment you are confirmed as participants. In Malaysia, we will have a hackathon-like overnight session with mentors on hand for you to finalize your product and prepare your pitch.

Are teams restricted to two members only?

You can receive help from more than two persons while you are developing the app, but only two persons from each team can attend our final event. Others can support you remotely, but only these two teammates will be publicly listed as participants in the challenge and/or receive prize packages.

Is this event restricted to developers and designers only?

If you wish, you may receive help from designers, marketers, or others while building your app. However, during the hackathon in Malaysia you will be finalizing the app, not building the idea, and so we suggest you only bring developers or designers who can actually work on finishing the app.

Do pitches have to be in English?

Yes, all pitches to the judges must be made in English.

Awards & Prizes

Participants will demonstrate their work before a panel of expert judges who will select a first, second, and third prize winner. The top three teams will receive cash prizes of:

  • US$3000 for the first place team
  • US$2000 for the second place team
  • US$1000 for the third place team

The first prize winners will be recognized at an APEC event alongside senior leadership from the government of Malaysia and the APEC Secretariat. An official award ceremony may take place at an APEC Symposium event attended by economic leaders and international press corps.

All finalists will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Malaysia for the APEC App Challenge event. Other fun and interesting prizes will be announced closer to the date of the event.




Questions may be sent to Drew Hasson, Program Officer at The Asia Foundation: