U.S. Team Toucan Wins with Innovative AI Solution at 2023 APEC App Challenge

Seattle, September 5, 2023 — On August 19, the U.S. team, Toucan, won the 2023 APEC App Challenge at the APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting in Seattle. This year, the app challenge focused on the 2023 US APEC theme Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All, which emphasizes the interconnected concepts of resiliency, sustainability, and inclusivity.

Since its inception seven years ago, The Asia Foundation has partnered with the APEC Secretariat to support the annual APEC App Challenge to promote innovation and address economic priorities using technology to produce applications that help small business owners with untapped economic potential participate and benefit in the global digital marketplace.

This year, Toucan took first place for its seamless integration of artificial intelligence and unique concept of providing relevant and specific information on affordable export logistics to small business owners and individuals with visual impairments and cognitive disabilities. Through a chatbot-like interface that accepts both typed and voice commands in more than 130 languages, users can receive a comprehensive text or voice-based analysis and information tailored to their needs.

Second place went to the China team for ExportPro, an app that features machine learning technology that helps users quickly and accurately match their export products with the appropriate customs tariffs and other relevant information in one consolidated place.

Third place went to a team from the Philippines for Emerge, an app that provides an export readiness assessment tool, MSMEs public global directory, smart search, an exporting document requirements database, and an ‘inclusion category’ feature.

In addition to winning cash prizes, winners will also receive mentorship opportunities through Digital Makers Asia-Pacific, the APEC App Challenge alumni community. These rewards are designed to support the winners in further refining and scaling their applications, ensuring their innovative solutions reach a wider audience.


“The APEC App Challenge is an opportunity for our youth to showcase how a digital tool can support MSMEs as they look to expand and grow their business regionally and internationally,” said Rebecca Sta Maria, executive director of APEC Secretariat. “Given the emphasis that we are placing this year on digitalization and the digital economy, it really aligns well with our priorities and, more importantly, to see how the use of technology works for our MSMEs.”

The APEC App Challenge is a joint initiative of 2023 APEC United States and the APEC Secretariat, with support from The Asia Foundation and Google.

Learn more about our work with APEC and listen to our InAsia interview with U.S. Senior Official for APEC Matt Murray.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives and expanding opportunities across Asia and the Pacific. Informed by decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region is focused on good governance, women’s empowerment and gender equality, inclusive economic growth, environment and climate action, and regional and international relations.

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