Being a part of the Solve MIT community has been a truly wonderful experience. In September, our proposal for South Pacific Flying Labs was selected from hundreds of applications. The first phase of Pacific Flying Labs was also funded by both the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Atlassian Foundation as part of the Solve MIT Challenge. In addition, our main partners for Pacific Flying Labs, the University of the South Pacific (USP), also co-sponsored the first phase of Pacific Labs, which is hosted on their campus in Suva, Fiji.
Last week, we were invited to participate in the annual Solve MIT conference in Boston, which brought all Solvers together with highly accomplished experts from a wide range of disciplines. Speakers also included the likes of Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. We were also invited to present the work of our Pacific Flying Labs during the closing plenary. The biggest highlight for us came on day one when DFAT publicly announced that they would be funding the second phase of our Pacific Flying Labs as a result of the hard work that our Pacific Labs had accomplished to date and based on our proposed roadmap for scaling across the region.
By significantly expanding their support of South Pacific Flying Labs, DFAT will enable outstanding young people from the region to become trained and certified drone operators. These youth will also learn how to use drones responsibly and effectively for a wide range of humanitarian work. We’ll be able to facilitate this training by creating more content for our Online Training Academy. This new round of funding will also enable us to establish a second hub of Pacific Flying Labs in the region, very likely in Vanuatu. In addition, our Pacific Flying Labs will also use the funding to develop and run multiple “Drone Adventure” camps for youths and “Fly Like A Girl” programs for girls from the region.
Finally, this second grant will enable us to consolidate our strategic partnerships with international, regional and national clients seeking drone services so that Pacific Flying Labs can become sustainable through fees for service. We have lots of work ahead of us, and we’re excited to get started, especially because we get to work with such outstanding partners and volunteers at the University of the South Pacific. Their professionalism, commitment and camaraderie has made our collaboration and hard work on Pacific Flying Labs especially rewarding. We’re very grateful to have such exceptional and accomplished partners in the South Pacific, and we can’t wait to see them take it all to the next level.