The US Embassy Cairo has partnered with the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport (AASTMT), and others to launch “COVID-19 Virtual Hackathon” from 19 to 29 June.
Mike Harker, Assistant Cultural Attaché in US Embassy in Cairo, said during a virtual roundtable on Wednesday that the hackathon will unite entrepreneurs, developers, and innovators find original solutions to the pandemic’s impact on society.
Harker added that the Hackathon aims to come up with effective local and global technological solutions to fight COVID-19 implications on society.
He revealed that the Hackathon is not only supported by the Embassy, but also by the US State Department, within the framework of Washington’s support to countries fighting COVID-19.
The winning teams will share EGP 90,000 in seed funding to develop their solutions.
“EGP 90,000 will be provided to the top three finalists, in which the first winner will get EGP 45,000, the second place will receive EGP 30,000, and the third place will win EGP 15,000,” Mohamed Fouad, Executive Director, Africa & Arab Collegiate Programming Championship (ACPC), Director of Logistics at International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) at AASTMT.
Online application to the hackathon will remain open until 17 June. Afterwards, the problem set, comprising five main COVID-19 related problems, will be announced on 18 June.
“On 21 June, teams will have to submit an up to 2 minutes video proposing their initial ideas. On 23 June, we will announce 100 teams who will be qualified for the second round. On 25 June, the 100 qualified teams will submit up to 5 minutes video proposing the detailed solution they provide, with a demo application,” Fouad elaborated.
“On 27 June, only 15 teams will be qualified to the final phase. On 29 June, the 15 shortlisted competitors will each make a live presentation for up to 10 minutes, and then judges will choose the top three teams,” he added.
“Through this hackathon, we seek to create technological solutions for coexistence and reducing the implications of COVID-19 as much as possible,” he wrapped up.
Ossama Ismail, Executive Director at ACPC and Dean of Regional Informatics Center at AASTMT, said that to date 310 teams have been registered via the website.
He added that the competition is open to all students, who could create creative and effective technological solutions for the problems caused by COVID-19 in society.
Ismail explained that applying for the competition is not limited to students with specific specializations or faculties.
Moreover, Waleed Khalil, Managing Partner at Endure Capital, and CEO and Co-Founder of Fakahany e-commerce platform, said the COVID-19 crisis has pushed the world 10 years forward in terms of digital transformation due to movement restrictions. People everywhere have been forced to deal with their life, work, etc online.
“In my opinion, COVID-19 crisis has impacted the consumer behavior, and since the entrepreneur sees opportunity in every challenge, it is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to build technology projects that deal with the COVID-19 implications during and after it,” he said.
He pointed out that after the selection of the three projects is over, there will be constant communication and guidance with the teams to ensure the continued success of their ideas and applications.
At the end of the roundtable, Harker assured that the idea is not limited to competition and prize, but beyond as opening a space for creative students and entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into a reality that benefits society through networking with US and Egyptian companies, as they will see the teams live presentations.
He mentioned that he US Department of State provides several training programmes for entrepreneurs, through its embassy in Egypt.