Sunway iLab’s Make It Challenge To Create Future Forward Urban Solutions

Sunway iLabs’ Make It Challenge has launched the sixth installation of the Make It Challenge on Sept 6. This year, it aims to tackle another one of the world’s most pressing challenges: sustainable cities. In collaboration with Sunway iLabs, we will journey through the Challenge with the participants and bring you interesting highlights in a series of articles.

Sunway iLabs at Sunway University has launched its 6th Make It Challenge (MIC), with a new exciting challenge for participants: creating solutions for future-forward cities.

Running a month to Oct 6, the Make It Challenge is open to Sunway staff and students and has attracted over 100 participants in total this year

“Malaysia is one of the most urbanized countries in East Asia, and one of the most rapidly urbanizing regions around the world. According to studies, over the last ten years, the urban population in Malaysia has increased from around 66 per cent in 2004 to 74 per cent in 2014. It has been estimated that 85% of Malaysia’s total population will live in urban areas by 2040.”

“Therefore, cities are the decisive point for Malaysia’s future, and we hope that this challenge will contribute to harnessing the power of young minds to develop future-forward solutions,” said Sunway University President Professor Sibrandes Poppema.

The Make It Challenge includes a design thinking workshop, idea validation and market research, business model creation, online mentoring sessions, storytelling and pitching clinics, and two demo days for the separate tracks which will be held on Oct 6.


Each team will be paired with an Industrial Mentor who will guide them in building their solutions throughout the Make It Challenge. The top team from each track will be selected to present their solutions to a panel of industry judges who will adjudge the winners based on problem statements, solution fit, business sustainability, idea uniqueness and innovation, prototype and storytelling.

Prizes for students include scholarships totalling RM 12,000.

Platinum sponsors for the Make It Challenge are DHL Express Malaysia and Hanan Medicare while Sunway Berhad is the Gold Sponsor.

An Opportunity to Develop Sunway’s Sustainable Cities

“We will have participants working in a team of three to four people to build solutions and tackle specific challenge statements that revolve around SDG Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities,” Sunway iLabs Foundry Director Karen Lau explained.

“What is most exciting about this year’s Challenge is that participants will have the opportunity to contribute to forward the vision and future developments of Sunway Group’s rapidly progressing existing and future cities including Sunway City Kuala Lumpur, Sunway City Ipoh, and Sunway City Iskandar Puteri. While other universities have campuses, Sunway University has cities as living laboratories, a test bed for urban innovations.”


According to Karen, the Make It Challenge is part of Sunway University’s vision to offer opportunities for its students to become job creators instead of job seekers and have the opportunity to game-change the future.

“Our mission here at iLabs Foundry is to uphold Sunway University’s Open Innovation Ecosystem by bringing out the entrepreneurial potential in students through experiential learning including through workshops, credit-bearing courses and hackathons.”

The Make It Challenge was first initiated in 2017 had seen five successful events, impacted about 900+ students, generated more than 80 solutions aligned to the SDGs and developed 32 community partners.

According to Karen Lau, the Make it Challenge was previously the springboard for currently rapidly growing student ventures including Airboard, the champion of the 2021 Make-It Challenge.

Airboard generated a solution to improve how classroom teaching can be done with an affordable IoT stylus that can write and draw on any surface, such as a projector screen or whiteboard This provides an alternative to schools who does not have a smart digital board. Airboard co-founders, Yap Shao Heng and Yong Yan Yew, who is currently studying at Sunway University, are preparing for the commercialization of their prototype through the iLabs Foundry startup incubator programme, LaunchX.

Both Yan Yew (left) and Shao Heng (right) are enthusiastic about technology and described their Make It Challenge experience as beneficial and exciting.

“The workshops conducted during the Challenge helped us to organise our ideas and inspire us further, enabling us to take our project to the next step. The challenge also allows us to pitch our project to investors in the real world. It was an invaluable learning experience for us.”

Throughout the challenge period, various workshops were conducted to guide participants on gathering market data, user feedback, and more.

“Actual testing in real-world scenarios by real users is important to build confidence in investors and stakeholders,” shared Shao Heng.

“It is also a good networking opportunity and we can interact with others with interesting innovations and ideas.”

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