JA Students Shine at 2019 FedEx Express/JA International Trade Challenge

August 23, 2019

JA Students Shine at 2019 FedEx Express/JA International Trade Challenge

2019 ITC Group Shot.jpg

60 students.
30 teams.
Four days.

The 13th-annual International Trade Challenge (ITC) took place August 18–22, 2019, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The competition, organized by JA Asia Pacific and FedEx Express, aims to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit and business skills of students.

At the ITC, students worked to create international market-entry strategy plans for a given product to a target market. Senior high school students participated in local workshops and competitions to qualify for the ITC, and the six most outstanding representatives from each location competed in the finals in Kuala Lumpur. Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam each sent students to Kuala Lumpur to compete.

On the first day, students arrived from all over the region and participated in icebreaking activities and a welcome dinner. They were also assigned to their teammate, a student from a different country, and presented with the year’s challenge.

Every year, the ITC challenges each team to develop a specific product or service and create an original international market entry strategy for a designated country. Through this process, students gain first-hand experience of what roles world trade, product distribution, and sales play in a market environment. In addition to teamwork, participating students learn the basics of risk evaluation in the business world and gain confidence in their analytical ability.

The challenge for 2019 was to create a market-entry strategy for a medical device product to be sold in Germany.

Day two saw the official opening of the ITC and the International Trade Workshop Session. In workshop sessions, student teams brainstormed ideas and worked collaboratively to come up with not only their products, but their market-entry strategies. In order to develop a winning product idea, students needed to combine traditional and modern market strategies as well as observe current geopolitical and social issues. “Today’s modern businesses are following Industry 4.0 principles incorporating technologies that are innate to the millennial generation,” said Karen Reddington, President, Asia Pacific Division, FedEx Express; Board Chair, JA Asia Pacific; and member of the JA Worldwide Board of Governors. “Social media, [artificial intelligence (AI)], big data, and [the Internet of Things (IoT)] are rapidly enhancing and extending physical supply chains. Our increasingly connected world is opening up new realms of possibilities where both the components of manufacturing and final end customers may be found across international borders, not just in domestic market places.”

On day three, students sat in on two inspirational talks about the future of business. The first came from Christy Ng, founder and CEO of ChristyNg.com, considered one of Malaysia’s most successful female entrepreneurs. “Business is about evolving,” Ng said. “And when opportunity comes, you grab it.”

Next, they heard from Brian Tee, Managing Director of Sales, South Pacific, at FedEx Express. Tee said, “Entrepreneurs today are a lot younger, and come from lots of different backgrounds. In terms of trends, we can see that robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality are all going to play a bigger role in businesses. And Asia is prepared to unseat Silicon Valley to be the next innovation hub!”

After the speeches, students continued to work on their strategies at the workshop sessions. Come day’s end, they submitted their market-entry strategy presentations. 

On the fourth and final day, all 30 teams took to the stage to share their ideas in the first round of presentations. The afternoon saw the announcement of the six teams selected to present in the Grand Final: HealthTech, Prost, Pioneers, Hungry Cheetah, Young Blood, and Rife.

Meet the finalists and their product ideas:

HealthTech—Lily Wang of Australia and Do Nhat Minh from Singapore—created the T-Ex Shirt, a sportswear shirt equipped with thermal-regulating technology that ensures a comfortable exercise experiment, as well as sweat-activated motivation phrases to keep workout momentum high.

Prost—Noelle Pang of Hong Kong and Kenneth Tee of Singapore—presented the Prost Watch, which monitors and regulates alcohol consumption with the goal of improving long-term healthy by avoiding liver and chronic health diseases. The wearable device also comes equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) that makes exercise suggestions to help the user stay fit.

Pioneers—Shamita Sheetal from Malaysia and Tran Hoang from Vietnam—proposed the Cardiator, a device that detects elevated cardiac enzyme in the user five to six hours in advance of a heart attack, thus curbing cardiovascular diseases. The device uses biomarkers sensor technology, heart rate monitoring, and AI virtual assistance for immediate response support.

Hungry Cheetahs—Ingeon Kim of Thailand and Kailash Sarma from Australia—presented the Herz Ring. The fashionable piece of jewelry will monitor high-blood-pressure conditions and track and detect irregular heart movement, aiming to reduce the wearer’s risk of heart attack.

Young Blood—Julia Samson from the Philippines and Young Pan of China—proposed the Healthkeeper, a smart watch that serves as a preventative care medical device by monitoring nicotine and alcohol levels and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. The device aims to curb heart disease and other illnesses, including Alzheimer’s.

Rife—Nydia Lee of Hong Kong and Shveenita Alyza Kanapathy from Malaysia—showcased Eartaps, a virtually invisible hearing aid for the elderly and those in need. The device is equipped with auto-sensation, automatically changing its settings to adapt to varying noise levels of the wearer’s surroundings in real time.

Ultimately, Prost was named the winner. Not only is the Prost Watch innovative, but the team showed a great deal of social awareness of the target market, tackling the health issues associated with alcohol consumption in Germany and promotion of safer drinking. Pioneers took second place for its Cardiator idea, and Rife came in third for Eartaps.

"This is an exciting milestone for our young entrepreneurs from around the Asia Pacific region,” said Vivian Lau, President and CEO of JA Asia Pacific. “FedEx/JA ITC has provided these young entrepreneurs not only with the necessary business knowledge and real-life skills but also the global connectedness to unleash infinite opportunities and pursue life-long dreams.”

"We are pleased that FedEx is part of the FedEx/JA International Trade Challenge program that cultivates youth entrepreneurship and empowers our business leaders of tomorrow,” said Karen Reddington. “We hope to inspire young entrepreneurs to think big—to think globally. A brilliant business idea may start small, but with a global network, the possibilities are endless.”

At JA Worldwide, we can’t wait to see what these inspirational students do next!