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Singapore’s Special Needs Community Emerge as Winner at the Inaugural VMware Ideas Hackathon

Singapore’s Special Needs Community Emerge as Winner at the Inaugural VMware Ideas Hackathon 

Inclusive innovators bring to life technology as a force for good; showcasing how technology can make Singapore more inclusive for special needs community 

Winning team from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of InfoComm Technology shine with idea for social network to address social skills and employment challenges


SINGAPORE, 24 May 2019 – VMware today announced the successful conclusion of its inaugural Ideas Hackathon, where three teams were picked from a field of 11 teams to harness technology as a force for good. A total of 11 teams comprising 53 developers, coders, designers and tech enthusiasts from across the education, business and technology sectors took part in the Hackathon, conceptualizing creative ideas with technology at their core to make Singapore a more inclusive society for members of the special needs community. 

The Hackathon took place on 22 May 2019 at the St. Regis Hotel Singapore as part of VMware’s flagship annual CIO Forum. With an objective of bringing together like-minded organizations and individuals to build a technology platform that helps students from Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) strengthen their social, numeracy and vocational skills, the Ideas Hackathon embodies VMware’s EPIC2 (Execution, Passion, Integrity, Customers and Community) values and Tech for Good corporate purpose, with the aim of building an inclusive and caring society in Singapore. 

“The purpose of technology is to make the world a better place. At VMware, we call it using technology as a force for good,” said Sanjay K. Deshmukh, vice president and managing director, Southeast Asia and Korea, VMware. “The inaugural Ideas Hackathon celebrates the use of technology for good and it is encouraging to see innovators come together from across the wider ecosystem to help build a more inclusive and caring society in Singapore. We are excited to be collaborating with the winning team from Ngee Ann Polytechnic on this project and look forward to the launch in the later part of this year.” 

Mentored by industry experts from VMware and in consultation with APSN partners, Team Flippers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Infocomm Technology (ICT), comprising four members – Ernest Lim, Joel Tio, Lim Jiale and Liu Wai Ho, emerged as the overall winner after a grueling six-hour design and pitching process. The winning solution called “Connect Us” aims to serve as a social networking platform for the special needs community, for students, alumni and potential employers to connect, exchange views as well as to improve the employment-matching process.

“The team is glad that we are able to put the knowledge we learnt from school to good use and help address the challenges faced by the special needs community both in terms of social skills and employment opportunities,” said Team Flippers. “This being our first-ever hackathon, we found it an exhilarating process going from ideation to several rounds of brainstorming and finally pitching to the judges all in a matter of hours. We are thankful for the help from the on-site mentors and look forward to seeing the application come to life so that the quality of life of persons with special needs can be improved. We hope that this application will be able to contribute towards making Singapore a more inclusive society.”

“We would like to congratulate Team Flippers for winning the VMware Ideas Hackathon. Their idea of “Connect Us” will go a long way in helping the special needs community overcome common challenges faced in their daily lives,” said Dr Christopher Tay, CEO of APSN. “We would also like to thank VMware and all the participating teams in working together to make Singapore a more inclusive society for all. To us, the biggest winner today is the special needs community in Singapore, as the Ideas Hackathon has shown us just how powerful technology can be in serving the greater good of humanity.”

Team Flippers will now have three months to fully develop and launch its mobile application, “Connect Us” at VMware’s vForum Singapore in August 2019.

About APSN

Established in 1976, Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) is a social service organisation providing special education for persons with mild intellectual disability (IQ 50-70). Today, APSN operates four Special Education (SPED) Schools (APSN Chaoyang School, APSN Katong School, APSN Tanglin School and APSN Delta Senior School) for students aged 7 to 21, an APSN Student Care Centre for children aged 7 to 18 and an APSN Centre for Adults for persons aged 16 and older, benefiting over 1,200 beneficiaries each year.

To date, APSN’s growing database has more than 5,000 alumni members. The Association is constantly expanding its network to reach out to and understand the needs of its members to better support them. 

For more information on APSN, please visit  

About VMware

VMware software powers the world’s complex digital infrastructure. The company’s cloud, networking and security, and digital workspace offerings provide a dynamic and efficient digital foundation to over 500,000 customers globally, aided by an ecosystem of 75,000 partners. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, VMware is committed to being a force for good, from its breakthrough innovations to its global impact. For more information, please visit

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