The Shopee Code League, organised by the e-commerce platform Shopee, is a virtual event comprising three programming challenges in areas like data analytics and data science.
There will also be online training workshops on these topics for selected participants.
The first challenge was launched on Saturday (March 6), with the remaining two to be launched on March 13 and 20.
This year, over 15,000 people from countries such as Singapore, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines aged between nine and 51 are taking part in the annual challenge, which is being held for the second time.
Speaking at the launch event held over Zoom on Saturday, Minister for Education Lawrence Wong said the large number of participants reflects a keen interest in coding in the region.
The minister noted that the Covid-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated technological trends over the past year.
"For decades, we've talked about the importance of technology. Companies invested in equipment for virtual meetings, we were all looking forward to the promise of telemedicine and remote learning, but not much happened," he said.
"Then, when Covid-19 struck, last year, in a matter of weeks, everything moved online and it completely changed the way we live, work, study and play."
This change is here to stay, Mr Wong said, noting that tech was once a narrow industry consisting of hardware and software companies but has now become ubiquitous in all industries and facets of life.
He encouraged the participants to focus on fundamentals which do not change, rather than specific programming languages which see their popularity rise and fall.
He added the solutions to real-world problems cannot be solved by software alone and will require collaboration between disciplines as he encouraged the participants to network and share knowledge.
Shopee's regional head of people, Ms Agatha Soh, said the competition aims to give participants the opportunity to work on real data sets and challenges in the Internet industry.
She said: "Through the Shopee Code League, we hope to spark greater awareness and interest in these specialisations by bringing tech communities closer through problem solving and knowledge sharing."
At stake in the competition are cash prizes of between $500 and $3,000 and some participants might also be offered jobs or internships at Shopee.