In the past two years, countries around the world have encountered huge challenges in terms of health policies, economic development, and social values in the face of the worldwide pandemic. Therefore, how to incorporate the perspectives of impact investment, sustainable development, technological innovation, and corporate social responsibility in rapidly changing times to solve major social problems is currently one of the most important issues. For the past seven years, National Sun Yat-sen University’s Social Enterprise Development and Research Center has held an annual social enterprise proposal competition, in order to give students from colleges and universities across the country a better understanding of the nature and meaning of social enterprises. From September to December of this year (2021), the “Turning the Tide: Technological Innovation and Social Enterprise Proposal Competition” was held with a focus on several major issues of concern. The competition was divided into seven themes, including: aging and physical and mental disabilities; ecology and environment; circular economy; local creativity; education, culture and innovation; and user-friendly technology.
Twelve teams were selected to participate in the final round of the competition. Members of these teams were able to attend the “Social Enterprise Innovation Business Model Workshop” held on November 27-28, free of charge. On the morning of the first day of the workshop, participants visited two local social enterprises: Taiwan AgriGaia Social Enterprise and Shanlin Gourd Art Workshop. Taiwan ArgiGaia’s “Bionic Underground Irrigation System,” recognized by five invention patents, is an original technology that improves crop nutrition while maintaining sustainable and healthy soil, while their product “Herbal Hand Cream” was awarded a silver medal in 2021 by MondeSelect Quality Assessment. Shanlin Gourd Art Workshop, established in 2006, uses natural gourds to create handmade artwork, creative daily products, environmental protection products, and products for technology, improving the status and economic value of gourds. In the afternoon of the first day and on the second day, many industry experts and mentors were invited to give a workshop at Mount Beatitude Social Welfare Cultural Education Center, including I-Chun Tuan, Insurance Business Strategy and Personal Financial Management and Risk Planning Consultant; Jih-Sheng Lo, Director of the Department of Digital Content Technology at National Taichung University of Education; Po-Shou Chen, Kaohsiung City Social Innovation Association Chairman; Hui-Ling Wei, General Manager of City Creativity Development Consulting Co., Ltd., and Chi-Min Hsieh, CEO of Adventrip Co., Ltd. The whole process was carried out with a cross-school and cross-domain problem-solving-oriented approach. Through group discussions and creative ideas, cross-disciplinary exchange and learning, interaction and sharing, as well as consultation with mentors, we work together to complete a comprehensive proposal for a social enterprise business model.
The final competition was held on December 10 on the 6th floor of the International Research Building of National Sun Yat-sen University. Specially invited judges included Chun-Kuei Peng, Chairman of the GWG Social Charity Foundation; Min-Chieh Kang, General Manager of Pan-Fei Technology Co., Ltd.; Jui-Hung Chien, CEO of Dahao Wenchuang Public Relations Consulting Company; and Yu-Chun Lin, Associate of Deloitte & Touche. After presentations and an intense round of questions from the judges, the winning teams were selected from the 12 finalist teams: gold, silver, and bronze medal awards were given to one team each, and three teams received an honorable mention award. Finally, judge Jui-Hung Chien encouraged the participating teams to keep working hard to solve social problems regardless of whether they won an award or not and to review the suggestions made by the judges so that they will be able to improve and achieve great results to showcase in the future.
By deepening the conversation about major issues, this event combines sustainability, innovation, intelligence, technology and social enterprise to achieve a cross-campus, cross-disciplinary, creative and forward-looking model of cultivating students. The Social Enterprise Development and Research Center’s Director Yih Jeng is very grateful to all the judges for their valuable suggestions and guidance. He also believes that this event will provide participating teams with different perspectives and learning opportunities and hopes that all teams can continue to work hard to improve and solve social problems together.