Eleven communities in eight Asia-Pacific countries stand to benefit from work backed by a new funding program of the Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF). The projects are being 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 US $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 Rose.
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 Fuchs.
In the next round, ISIF will support up to 10 projects with grants up to AU $40,0000. The projects will be selected during 2009 to receive funding and implement their project in 2010. Details of the new 'Call for Applications' are available at www.isif.asia.
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