High-level technology (HLT) can help improve efficiency and productivity, thereby saving resources. Combining innovative approaches and technologies can create a positive impact on addressing development challenges. In many developing member countries (DMCs) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), however, it is still quite a challenge to introduce HLT projects.

Aside from funds as a major constraint, many DMCs find it hard to adopt and scale up HLT due to gaps in skills and lack of infrastructure to implement new and advanced technologies.

Considering the merits of HLT, ADB established the HLT Fund.

  1. Established in 2017, the HLT Fund is a multi-donor trust fund to promote the use of HLT into project development and implementation in Asia and the Pacific, with Government of Japan as its first donor.

    Source: ADB Establishes Fund to Promote High-Level Technology - Japan First Donor

  2. ADB intends to enhance its use of HLT in areas such as climate change, smart grids, mass energy storage, energy efficiency, renewable energy, toll/ticketing systems, intelligent transport systems, mass transit, smart cities, waste-to-energy technology, desalination, and remote sensing technology.

    Source: ADB Establishes Fund to Promote High-Level Technology - Japan First Donor

  3. The fund supports innovative technologies and integrated solutions that are either new or need scaling-up, not only to improve project impact but also to develop the countries’ technological capability. Projects from ADB’s DMCs are eligible for financing from the fund.

    Source: Establishment of the High-Level Technology Fund

  4. As of December 2020, the HLT Fund has received around $70 million in total from the Government of Japan. Since the inception of the fund, 12 investment projects, 37 technical assistance projects, and 23 direct charges were approved for funding.

    Source: High-Level Technology Fund Quarterly Progress Report (October-December 2020)

  5. The COVID-19 pandemic is putting an enormous pressure on health systems. To help ADB’s DMCs, the HLT Fund is supporting the promotion of HLT on logistics and supply chain and vaccine information system. The adoption of these technologies will contribute to strengthening of health systems by improving the efficiency of health systems and reduction of wastage of vaccines and other medical goods. It will also enhance the monitoring of health services and provide updated information to health decision-makers.

    Source: Regional: Regional Support to Address the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Potential Outbreaks of Other Communicable Diseases

  6. Through the support of the HLT Fund, the Chittagong–Cox’s Bazar Railway Project will introduce the use of sensor systems, such as thermal imaging cameras or seismic sensors, to detect the presence of elephants near the rail tracks to avoid accidents.

    Source: Using Sensor Technology to Avoid Elephant–Train Accidents in Bangladesh

  7. The fund is also supporting the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation National Single Window Project to pilot the use of blockchain technology to improve trade facilitation and supply chain management. The project will focus on the use advanced digital technologies in international trade to improve trustworthiness, efficiency, and timeliness of local and regional supply chains.

    Source: How Blockchain Can Improve Supply Chain Transparency in Maldives

  8. The fund aims to help Mongolia implement a new road safety management strategy by installing wire-rope barriers to separate opposing lanes of traffic and reduce fatal road accidents by 95%. This is part of the Regional Road Development Management Project supported by ADB, which aims to preserve and improve important regional road sections linking Mongolia's capital with the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation.

    Source: Improving Road Safety in Mongolia

  9. Backed by the HLT Fund, Pakistan is building its first large-scale, grid-connected lithium-ion battery energy storage system to dispatch intermittent renewable energy and improve transmission network stability.

    Source: First Grid-Connected Battery Storage System to Improve Clean Energy Access in Pakistan

  10. Private sector companies and organizations can participate in HLT Fund-financed projects through ADB procurement by providing their expertise as consultants or by providing the necessary equipment.

    Source: Establishment of the High-Level Technology Fund

  11. The HLT Fund is also supporting more direct collaboration with the private sector through the Technology Innovation Challenge (TIC). The first TIC was announced in June 2019 targeting three energy sector development challenges, with its call for proposals opened in October the same year. The following firms emerged as winners: HeliosAltas Corp., Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and Asano Taiseikiso Engineering Co., Ltd.

    Source: Technology Innovation Challenge

  12. In 2020, the second TIC was launched to look for solutions for challenges in the following areas: healthy oceans, urban development, and transport. The TIC and HLT Fund teams are currently assessing all the submissions. In March 2021, the Disease Resilient and Energy-Efficient Centralized Air-Conditioning Systems TIC was also launched. Supported by the HLT Fund, this challenge aims to look for solutions to introduce disease-resilient and energy-efficient centralized air-conditioning systems in public buildings.

    Source: Technology Innovation Challenge