Smart Funds IT Student Pilot Program

A nine-month program to encourage Phnom Penh university students to start their own tech-related businesses is being funded and organized by mobile telephone operator Smart.

Students can apply for the program, dubbed SmartStart, in an online application process beginning on Sunday.

Hundreds of customers wait outside the Phnom Penh headquarters of mobile phone operator Smart on Monivong Boulevard on Friday morning for the official release of Apple’s new iPhone 6 in 2014 (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

120 students will be chosen from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, the National University of Management and the National Institute of Posts, Telecoms and ICT, according to a news release.

Participants will be divided into teams to plan their digital startup proposals. In the second phase, the number of students will be whittled down to 60 during challenges. Five teams will eventually get $4,000 each to start their business ventures.

One of the teams will also be selected to visit the Singapore offices of Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart, said the mentorship program would be a pilot this year, but there were plans to expand if it proved a hit.

“If the program is successful, we will open it up to all universities and high school students and potentially also for non-students to apply,” he said.

Additional support for the project is being provided by the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, the Education Ministry, and tech-related companies Anakot Asia, Codingate, Emerald Hub and CamMob.

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