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Official Contest Rules of the U.S.-ASEAN Innovation Circle Grassroots Competition
June 23, 2021

The U.S.-ASEAN Innovation Circle Grassroots Competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Proposal Submission Form: https://forms.gle/KvX4XwSHXBtevfsV7

Deadline: 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 31, 2021

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions here.


Description of Contest Objectives

This competition will solicit solutions from the general public in ASEAN member states and Timor Leste to the following challenges to innovation:

Challenges to Innovation related to Women’s Entrepreneurship

  • Challenge #1: How to address the lack of access to networking for growth of women-owned businesses?
  • Challenge #2: How to address the lack of skills training and capacity building programs for women-owned businesses?

Challenges to Innovation related to Digital Economy

  • Challenge #3: How to ensure inclusive access to technology for all?
  • Challenge #4: How to ensure a sustainable supply of human capital in the fast-changing digital economy?

Challenge to Innovation related to Socially Responsible Business

  • Challenge #5: How to ensure that socially responsible businesses can access adequate resources to become financially sustainable companies?

Challenges to Innovation related to Fostering Start-Up Environments

  • Challenge #6:  How to address the lack of access to early-stage funding, so that investment does not come too late for start-ups in Southeast Asia?
  • Challenge #7: How to address the lack of good start-up advisors and enablers in Southeast Asia who can help build companies that have potential to expand outside of the region?

See more detailed descriptions of each challenge here.

(See the “Eligibility” section below to find out who is eligible to be a contestant.)


Events from this contest as well contest winners may be announced using Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms or websites; however they are not partners or sponsors of the contest.  Contestants are reminded that by participating in the contest and uploading content to Google Forms, they are bound by Google’s Terms of Service and any agreements contained therein.


How to Enter

Participation in the contest is deemed as acceptance of these Official Contest Rules.  Once an entry is submitted, it is considered a final submission and may not be modified, edited or replaced.

The contest commences at 8 a.m. EDT on June 23, 2021.  Entries may be submitted between 8 a.m. EDT on June 23, 2021 and 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 31, 2021. Judging begins on September 7, 2021 and ends on September 21, 2021.

Entries must be submitted in English and can only be submitted via the form found on the website of the U.S. Mission to ASEAN.  A valid entry must include all information required on the submission page, including the name and email address of the person(s) submitting the entry.

Up to four persons can jointly submit a single entry. Each entry can address only one challenge, and the part of the entry presenting a solution to the challenge can have a maximum of 1,500 words.

The Contest Sponsor will not pay for, reimburse, or in any other way cover the costs to participants associated with the development or submission of contest entries.

Content Requirements

  1. Submissions must not contain obscenity, explicit sexual material, nudity, profanity, graphic violence, calls or incitement to violence, commercial solicitation or commercial promotion. Submissions must conform to local law and must not contain content or images that could be considered abusive, inflammatory, denigrating, or disrespectful to the Contest Sponsor, or to any groups, individuals or institutions.  Submissions must adhere both in appearance and in fact to the norms of civil discourse.  In other words, the content of all submissions must be suitable for a global, public audience.
  2. Submissions must be original content created by the contestant and must not contain any elements that are protected by someone else’s copyright or otherwise subject to third party intellectual property or proprietary rights, including privacy and publicity rights (except as expressly permitted below in (d)). The Contest Sponsor recognizes no allowance for “fair use” of copyrighted material, nor does the Contest Sponsor recognize allowance for use of licensed materials created or owned by a third party.
  3. The Contest Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify, at their sole and absolute discretion, any submission that does not adhere to these criteria and to the intent and substance of these Official Contest Rules.
  4. In the event of any question or difference of views regarding compliance with, interpretation, or application of these content requirements or other provisions of these Official Contest Rules, the Contest Sponsor reserves the exclusive right to resolve such questions or differences of views in their sole discretion.



  1. Contestants must be at least 18 years old on the date of entry into the contest. Contestants must be residents of a member country of ASEAN or Timor Leste and may not be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
  2. The individual(s) submitting the entry will be considered the contestant(s) and will be the only individual(s) eligible to compete for the prize. Organizations are not eligible to compete for the prize, either as an entity, or through representation by an individual.  In order to be eligible for the prize, the contestant(s) must provide complete and accurate information.
  3. The following individuals are not eligible to participate in the contest: Employees, interns, directors, and officers of the Contest Sponsor, members of the U.S.-ASEAN Innovation Circle or their affiliates, or the U.S. Government; or any employees, interns, directors, officers of any agencies, companies or entities involved in the administration, advertising, judging, creation, development, execution, and/or fulfillment of the contest, and the immediate family members (defined as spouse, recognized partner, parent, child, sibling, and spouse or “step” of each) and those living in the same household of each such individual.
  4. Once a submission has been accepted for entry into the contest, the contestant’s name and country may be publicly identified at the sole discretion of the contestants.


Selection of a Winner

  1. All submissions are subject to pre-screening by the Contest Sponsor to ensure compliance with these Official Contest Rules. Any submissions out of compliance will not be considered.  The Contest Sponsor reserves the right in their sole and absolute discretion to verify in the final analysis whether a potential finalist or potential winning submission has fully complied with these Official Contest Rules before posting to the contest site, awarding prize, recognizing as winner, etc.
  2. Judges: The contest jury is comprised of the members of the U.S.-ASEAN Innovation Circle and staff of the U.S. Department of State.
  3. Judging Criteria:  Entries will be judged on how well they address the challenges to innovation identified by the members of the U.S.-ASEAN Innovation Circle.  Competition entries should propose low-cost, high-impact solutions to these challenges to innovation.  Preference will be given to joint entries with authors from two or more countries, and to submissions that propose solutions with a regional scope.
  4. Winners: Each winner and/or finalist will be required to sign and return to the Contest Sponsor a statement of eligibility and liability/publicity release and provide a short bio (where applicable) and a brief statement about the submission; otherwise the winner and/or finalist will be ineligible for any prize. The inability of the Contest Sponsor to contact a potential winner may result in disqualification and/or selection of an alternate winner from among all remaining eligible submissions.
  5. Winners and finalists will be notified via the e-mail address they provided upon entry. Winners and finalists may be announced on the Embassy website and/or social media pages.  Winners and finalists may choose to use an alias instead of their real name and may request other identifying information be kept private.



  1. Honoraria of up to $1,000 maximum per proposal author (up to $4,000 in total per proposal) may be awarded on a case-by-case basis to the winning entries. In the case of a joint entry, the honorarium will be divided among the authors of the submission (up to four persons allowed per single entry).  To be eligible to receive a prize, contest winners will be required to develop their proposals into full research and implementation reports of up to 5,000 words that would make it possible to put their proposals into practice as foreign assistance activities.  Reports will be due no later than 60 days following notification of selection as winning proposals.
  2. Winners have to confirm the acceptance of the prize in an email reply within three calendar days. If the acceptance is not confirmed by the required date, the Contest Sponsor reserves the right to select an alternative winner.  Each winner must provide a valid physical mailing address where a prize, if any, is to be shipped.  The Contest Sponsor is not responsible for any problems related to the shipping of any prize, including, but not limited to, theft, delay, damage, or destruction/accidental loss by the shipping carrier.
  3. Any unused portion of the prize is not transferable, convertible, or exchangeable and cannot be taken as cash. All taxes on or in connection with any prize, and the reporting consequences thereof, are the sole and exclusive responsibility of the winner.


Liability and Rights

  1. The Contest Sponsor does not endorse any submissions or messages expressed therein, and the Contest Sponsor expressly disclaims any and all liability in connection with the submitted essays including disputes between collaborators related to a submission.
  2. The contest and its sponsor do not permit copyright infringing activities or infringement of any other intellectual property rights, and the Contest Sponsor reserves the right to remove and disqualify any submission they deem to be in violation of another party’s copyright or other intellectual property rights.
  3. Contestants retain sole ownership of their original work. The submission remains the intellectual property of the contestant, and the Contest Sponsor and U.S. Government make no claim of copyright as to the work of any individual who enters the contest.  Contestant specifically agrees to give the Contest Sponsor permission to use all content submitted for purposes of judging the contest.  Finalists and/or winners will be required to grant the Contest Sponsor, with proper attribution through whatever means they deem appropriate, a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sub-licensable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, and/or display the submission in any media formats and through any media channels in perpetuity in connection with the activities and operations of the contest.
  4. Contestant assumes sole responsibility for the contest submission and the material contained in it, and for any consequences of submitting or posting it.
  5. The Contest Sponsor reserves the right at any time to verify the validity of entries and of contestants and to disqualify any contestant or entry deemed not in compliance with these Official Contest Rules. The Contest Sponsor also reserve the right to request further documentation, at their sole and absolute discretion, to verify eligibility and compliance with these Official Contest Rules.
  6. If a prize or any portion thereof is unavailable, the Contest Sponsor, in their sole discretion, reserves the right to substitute the prize with another prize of equal or greater value and/or specification.
  7. The Contest Sponsor reserves the right, at any time and in their sole discretion, to disqualify and/or deem ineligible any individual who they reasonably believe (i) has violated the Official Contest Rules; (ii) has violated the terms of use of platform, or (iii) is acting in a bad faith, or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person.
  8. The Contest Sponsor reserves the right to modify, suspend, terminate or cancel the contest at their discretion for any reason.
  9. Contestant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Contest Sponsor, their parent, subsidiary and affiliated companies, officers, directors, employees, interns, and agents, from and against any and all claims, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debts, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees) arising from (i) violation of these Official Contest Rules; (ii) violation of any third party right, including without limitation any copyright, trademark, intellectual property, privacy, publicity, or other proprietary right in connection with the contest; or (iii) any claim that a contest submission caused any harm, including financial, to any third party.  These indemnification and hold harmless obligations will survive indefinitely beyond the conclusion of the contest.
  10. The conduct, judging, and awarding of prizes will be carried out in full compliance with applicable U.S. law and host country law. In the event of a conflict between U.S. law and host country law, U.S. law shall apply.
  11. The Contest Sponsors and the U.S. Government will take reasonable measures to protect privacy data, personally identifiable information, and other sensitive data of contestants. Contact information provided by contestants may be stored by the United States Department of State and may be used to contact contestants for other purposes in the future.  This information may be shared with the co-sponsor of the contest and/or be made available to third parties, to the extent permitted by law.
  12. The Contest Sponsor assumes no liability or responsibility for any loss or harm resulting from any user’s participation in or attempt to participate in the contest or ability or inability to upload, download, or otherwise access any information in connection with participating in the contest. Contest Sponsors assume no responsibility or liability for technical problems, or technical malfunctions arising in connection with the operation of the contest, including: hardware or software errors; faulty computer, telephone, cable, satellite, network, electronic, wireless or Internet connectivity, or other online communication problems; errors or limitations of any Internet service providers, servers, hosts or providers; garbled, jumbled or faulty data transmissions; failure of any email transmissions to be sent or received; lost, late, delayed or intercepted email transmissions; inaccessibility of the contest site in whole or in part for any reason; traffic congestion on the Internet or the contest site; unauthorized human or non-human intervention in the operation of the contest, including without limitation, unauthorized tampering, hacking, theft, virus, bugs, worms; or destruction of any aspect of the contest, or loss, miscount, misdirection, inaccessibility or unavailability of an email account used in connection with the contest.
  13. Use of contest site is at user’s own risk. The Contest Sponsors is not responsible for any personal injury, property damage, or losses of any kind which may be sustained to computer equipment resulting from participation in the contest, use of the contest site or the downloading of information from the contest site.  By participating in the contest, the contestant releases the Contest Sponsor from any and all claims arising from or relating to such contestant’s participation in the contest, whether directly or indirectly.
  14. The Contest Sponsor is not liable in the event that any portion of the contest is cancelled or delayed due to weather, fire, strike, acts of war or terrorism, or any other reason.