Singapore works with citizens to create sustainable solutions

By Si Ying Thian

The Build for Good initiative, led by Open Government Products (OGP), saw five winning teams moving to the next accelerator phase where they will be supported by government agencies to scale their solutions for real world uses.

SPS Baey visiting the booth of one of the participating teams at the Build for Good hackathon finale event on June 22. Image: Open Government Products (OGP).

We want to set up systems that empower citizens to solve problems, rather than having the government own and gatekeep the solutions, said Open Government Products (OGP)’s Director, Li Hongyi.


He was speaking at the finale of this year’s Build for Good hackathon held on June 22.


The need to involve citizens to solve problems was also emphasised by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE)’s Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Baey Yam Keng. During his closing address, he spoke about the various funding schemes and platforms made available by the government to advance citizen-driven solutions.


In its second run, the Build for Good initiative, led by OGP, consisted of a hackathon and accelerator aimed at empowering citizens to develop solutions that address pressing issues in Singapore.


OGP is an experimental tech team within GovTech Singapore.

Government partnership is key


OGP and SG Eco Fund, a S$50 million funding by MSE to support environmental projects, partnered to run this year’s initiative.


Themed around sustainability, which was voted as one of the most pressing issues by participants last year, this year saw submissions ranging from waste, nature and biodiversity, energy and climate change, and public hygiene.


OGP also roped in four other government agencies and six environmental organisations to support participants to better understand the environmental space from both policy and product perspectives.


Speaking to GovInsider last year, OGP’s Li pointed out the value of the initiative, which is to help build connections between government agencies and citizens who are keen to work together with government to solve problems.


The citizens who participated this time ranged from students, tech professionals, public officials, founders to medical professionals.

Matchmaking innovations with problem statements


Out of the 19 teams who participated in the hackathon, five emerged as winners. This was an increase from the three winning teams out of 13 last year.

This year's event saw an increase in the number of winning and participating teams. Image: Open Government Products (OGP).

The winning prototypes ranged from a fish feed upcycled from food waste, an app to coordinate coastline cleanups and volunteering efforts, as well as data platforms used for medicine redistribution, public toilet hygiene and environmental impact assessments.


According to OGP’s press team, government agencies, including the National Parks (NParks) and MSE, were invited to submit their problem statements. 

While the participating teams also have the freedom to define and work on their problem statements, some teams have decided to work on those submitted by the government agencies.


For example, the public toilet hygiene data platform that captures users’ feedback and recommends actionable insights to improve toilet cleanliness is aligned with MSE’s designation of 2024 as the year of public hygiene.


Additionally, SPS Baey highlighted that the volunteer coordination app is all the more relevant in light of incidents such as the recent oil spill cleanup in Singapore.


Following the one-month hackathon, the winning teams will now move to an eight-weeks' accelerator programme, where they will receive up to S$100,000 (US$73,970) across the various phases, and support from OGP to scale the solutions and launch them with real users.


The third run of Build for Good – the second one for this year – will take place from August 28 to October 5 to encourage citizens to build solutions that tackle problems beyond environmental issues.