Tackling Food Waste in Hanoi with SEA Makerthon

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Tackling Food Waste in Hanoi with SEA Makerthon

The SEA Makerthon is a summer-long regional hackathon taking place in 10 cities across Southeast Asia. It was organized by the Southeast Asian Makerspace Network (SEAMNET) to address issues concerning sustainability. The theme “Designing a World with Zero Waste” will be addressed by makers in different ways based on local needs and interests.

You can see other articles on the SEA Makerthon here.

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. For a country that only opened up in the 1990s, Hanoi is now known as a fast developing city in Southeast Asia. It has a population of 7.6 million people. In a mix of tradition and modernity, Hanoi is trying to find its unique place in the world. Other than the incredible street food and its beautiful Hoan Kiem lake, Hanoi is also just starting up its very own vibrant maker community.

Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Photograph by Athikom Saenghcai

Building a Community of Hanoi-an Makers

Enter Fablab Hanoi. It is one of 3 spaces in Hanoi that are part of the maker movement in the city. Fablab Hanoi believes in empowering young makers to make a positive change in their country. Frustrated by the lack of hands on skills in the current education system, Thanh Phuong Nguyen set up Fablab Hanoi to encourage younger Vietnamese to try their hand at new technologies and craft.

Each of the other makerspaces take a different approach. Maker Hanoi which was founded by Tuan, has committed members consisting of engineers and researchers. They set up the makerspace to continue their interest in developing their own personal projects. They are now slowly expanding to include projects for children as well. On the other software end of the spectrum, Hackanoi was set up by Duy to focus on attracting white hat hackers to his hackerspace. As a Vietnamese who grew up in Germany, he was inspired to set up the space to nurture the next generation of coders and programmers in Vietnam.

A video of Phuong during an interview with Forbes earlier this year.

Making the a better future,one layer of filament at a time.

The Beginning

Fablab Hanoi co-founder, Thanh Phuong Nguyen first met the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) team in Hanoi last year when they were making their annual trip to cities with nascent maker movements. It was then that the SL2 team proposed a innovation competition that combined both making and entrepreneurship which would be a great way to raise awareness about the Maker Movement in Vietnam. Together, they came up with the concept of tackling wasted food in Hanoi. Vietnam is well known for its excellent street food. However, there is still very little done in terms of management of leftover or unsold food.

The SEA Makerthon 2016 in Hanoi was held at the colorful VTC Academy. Held over the first weekend of September, teams of four were introduced to digital fabrication, design thinking and the business model canvas. There was a mixture of high school and college students. While the maker community in Vietnam was familiar with software focused competitions, for many of them the concept of a makerthon was an entirely different ballgame.

The abundance of food in recent decades means that much of it goes to waste. How can makers create solutions to reduce or redistribute  leftover food?
Some groups were very creative in showing how their sharing app works. This iPhone was nearly as large as a normal sized human!
Evolution of prototypes. You can only get better by doing it again and again! An “Amazon Dash” for restaurants. Team Meo Food used an Arduino, a simple dial switch and a circuit board to make their prototype.
The VTC Academy was the perfect space for the makerthon as it is a school for upcoming visual artists in Vietnam. Check out the drawings at the back! Team Queen Bee is hard at work during the paper prototyping segment.


3D printing is one of the best ways to make a prototype says the 3D printing expert!


Masterclasses are one of the best ways for participants to gain skills in the shortest amount of time. Here is Nguyen as she learns how to do 3D modeling for the first time.


Team Infinition backed their portable vacuum prototype up with data, showing the importance of making a product that addresses a need in the market.

3 Solutions in Encouraging Consumers to Prevent Consumers from Wasting Food 

Many teams acknowledged that food wastage cannot just be solved with technology. There needs to be an ecosystem in place. All of the teams had a story to tell about their relationship with food. From mothers forgetting about food in their fridge to being frustrated about leaving excess food on the table in restaurants, each one was motivated by a personal story. Check out some of the best ideas from the competition!

1) Team Meo Food

Fast food restaurants are popular in Hanoi. The team finds that the restaurants throw away a lot of their excess food.  They have come up with a 3 component system. The MeoDash, MeoCloud and MeoApp connect restaurant owners to consumers. Restaurant owners can easily indicate how much food they have left while consumers can be notified of discounted food items.

Similar to the concept of Amazon Dash, fast food restaurant owners or employees can easily turn the dial of the “MeoDash” to indicate how much food they have left.


The data from the fast food restaurant is uploaded directly onto a website “MeoCloud” and mobile app “MeoApp” that alerts consumers on how much food is left and the discount they get on the food items.


How the 3 Meo technologies work together! The screen shows how many KFC chicken pieces are left and the discount on them.

2) Team 7 Colourful Rabbits

While their solution doesn’t involve bunnies, it does involve getting the community to share their food! Their solution is called Neighbourfood. This team knows that any community in Vietnam would always  have delicious food available. They would like to install a big fridge for people who live in apartments or clusters of homes. Their fridge also comes with an app that lets users know who wants to give food and who wants to take food. It is low cost, can be easily set up and hopes to bring Hanoi neighbours even closer together through the sharing of meals!


A simple app that can even be used by our grandmothers!


They are also the winning team from Hanoi who will be at the Grand Finale in Singapore come October!

3) The Big O

Busy housewives buy groceries in large amounts to avoid buying food too often. This results in them forgetting what food they have. Managing veggies and meat can be hard without knowing when the food was bought. They have created an app and a special scale. The weighing scale will automatically send the data to the mobile app that will notify users when the expiration date for the food is.


The business model canvas, the weighing scale and the app. Visuals mean a lot during presentation!


Demonstrating how the scale identifies the type of food and the weight of the food item.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s post. More photos from the event can be found at the Southeast Asia Makerspace Network’s Photo Album.

If you are ever in Hanoi, please do visit the city’s makerspaces. Join a workshop and hang out with the makers!Catch us next in Penang and Jakarta!

The SEA Makerthon 2016 will see 10 cities across the region organizing makerthons. Not only will this see 1000-1500 makers tackle challenges related to sustainability, all winning teams will be incubated under a regional Maker Apprenticeship Programme to refine their prototypes into working products. Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) is the social innovation partner of the SEA Makerthon 2016.

The 10 winning teams will compete against each other at the Grand Finale in Singapore during the Asian Makers’ Summit (InnovASEAN) on the 15-16 of October.

The SEA Makerthon 2016 and InnovASEAN 2016 is organized by the Southeast Asian Makerspace Network (SEAMNET).

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