• The 10-hour hackathon during SEF 2021 has inspired the next generation of UAE's young changemakers to find human-centred solutions to various challenges
• Rigorous ideation workshops followed by pitch presentation and selection of top 3 ideas
• Winners will be awarded subsidised access to an online/offline skills course and further support from Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center through its programmes
Sharjah, November 24, 2021
The ‘ICT Fund SEF Hackathon', a special collaboration between the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) and the UAE's Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), witnessed the shaping of the next generation of young entrepreneurs in the UAE at the recently concluded Sheraa Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) 2021, as more than 80 youth partook in an exciting ideation hackathon to collaboratively come up with high-impact, ICT-inspired solutions to selected challenges.
Designed to be part of one of TDRA's ICT Fund initiatives, this hackathon took place over a 10-hour period during the two-day SEF 2021, inspiring university students and graduates from across the country to stimulate their entrepreneurial mindsets as well as their design thinking approach to identify and address challenges in the emerging sectors of ICT, AI, Big Data and Data Science.
Through a two-day rigorous curriculum that featured ideation workshops to networking with ecosystem players at SEF 2021 to gather insights to validate their respective ideas, and receiving rapid one-on-one mentorship and feedback at the festival, the learning journeys of all participating teams culminated in a pitch competition before the hackathon jury on the second day of SEF 2021 (November 23, Wednesday).
Three winners with the most impactful ideas and the potential to grow and turn into startups were announced by the jury. They will receive subsidised access to an online/offline skills course and further support from Sheraa through its programmes, if relevant and applicable.
The top spot went to the idea of automating the preliminary examination procedures at hospitals to minimise human interaction while the second place winner pitched the idea of developing a portal that offers cybersecurity information and solutions. The third place went to the development of an app linking local farmers with retailers.
At the basis of this innovative ICT Fund–Sheraa collaboration lay the latter's objectives to expose the local youth to entrepreneurship as a potential career option, as well as provide them with an opportunity to practice the entrepreneurial ideation process at SEF 2021 and beyond.
Eng. Omar M. Al Mahmoud, CEO of the ICT Fund, said: “The TDRA spares no efforts to stimulate creativity and innovation amongst members of the community, especially the youth. We are working based on a methodology aimed at advancing the creative capabilities of the nation's youth, and utilise their talents to find innovative solutions for pressing issues, especially those related to healthcare, transportation, environment and education”.
He pointed out that the two-day hackathon has yielded amazing ideas that assert the capabilities of the youth in realising the country's vision. “During the event, we discussed several important topics that require innovative solutions. The results affirm that our country is on the right path in shaping and empowering its human capital. The young participants displayed a great acumen for understanding pressing issues and their impact on our future, and provided practical solutions leveraging their education and the country's infrastructure – all with the potential of being transformed into viable and valuable projects.”
The hackathon has ended with spectacular results including the graduation of more than 80 youth from a rapid entrepreneurial upskilling programme, who have also been added to Sheraa's network with access to mentorship and community events; the birth of 7–10 youth-powered ideas that employ ICT-based user-centric solutions to addressing the challenges of today, particularly in the aforementioned sectors; and finally, up to 30 talented youth who pitched these ideas have gained access to further learning and skills development opportunities through Sheraa's subsidised training opportunities.
For the first time in SEF's history, the two-day in-person event was free-to-attend for all visitors. It took place in Expo Centre Sharjah under the theme #WhenStarsCollide, and held in partnership with the ICT Fund – an initiative of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and the Digital Government of the United Arab Emirates, Sharjah Media City (Shams), Alef Group, and the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.