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KFAS launches virtual Hackathon in its drive to combat COVID-19 pandemic challenges

Jul 02, 2020

  • Supported by the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, the United States Embassy in Kuwait, Agility Logistics and CODED
  • The hackathon provides special opportunities to solve problems and create models and solutions that can be employed in any sector in Kuwait

   The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) has launched a virtual hackathon to develop beta digital solutions that are aimed at addressing the challenges faced by the private and governmental entities in the State of Kuwait as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19  pandemic.

The hackathon is held in cooperation with the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, the United States Embassy in Kuwait, Agility Logistics, a world leading logistics company, as well as CODED, a Kuwait-based coding academy. This event falls under the Foundation's efforts to generate, use and encourage creative ideas based on the latest digital means in order to face and cope with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kuwait.

Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, the Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences said that the hackathon activities are part of the current strategy of the foundation that focuses on motivating all segments of society to engage in the fields of science, technology and innovation with the aim of generating the greatest possible benefits for society in general as well as youth, the research community, the private sector entities in addition to the governmental agencies.

“A number of workshops and lectures are held before the 24-hour hackathon for the purpose of creating a prosperous environment for innovative digital solutions and encouraging creative energies in Kuwait, in line with the Foundation’s goals and strategy” added Dr. Shihab-Eldin. He also noted that the cooperation with the United States embassy aims to create and strengthen the cooperation between the participants and experts from leading digital companies in the United States in order to enhance the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

The Foundation's Director-General has also highlighted that the hackathon provides special opportunities to solve problems and create models and solutions that can be employed in any sector in Kuwait, and called on all the technology developers and designers to join the hackathon challenge, and contribute to creating innovative solutions to deal with the repercussions of the Covid-19  pandemic.

Dr. Shihab-Eldin said that the individuals participating in the challenge will be divided into teams consisting of 2 to 5 persons and will experience this 24 hours hackathon in a competitive environment in which they will develop a strategy that focuses on innovative ways to deal with the challenge chosen by the team from the series of challenges identified by the organizers. The teams will then work on that specific challenge and provide a model for solving it that would be enforceable in any sector of activity in the country.

On her part, the Ambassador of the United States of America to the State of Kuwait, Alina Romanowski, invited the participants to find and use different creative ways that could be implemented to face the challenges imposed by the Covid-19  pandemic. She described the hackathon as "a wonderful opportunity to show the efforts that governments, companies and civil society institutions can jointly do to attract various talents and resources to address the repercussions of the pandemic."

The US Ambassador has also declared that the American embassy has facilitated the participation of three prominent American entrepreneurs to talk about their experience with the participants, expressing her hope that such stories can inspire local entrepreneurs to "find practical solutions to the many problems resulting from this pandemic."

The Secretary-General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, Dr. Khaled Mahdi, has also praised the efforts made by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences in leading innovation in Kuwait and encouraging innovators to provide their creative solutions to the problems and challenges that the country is facing, pointing to the distinguished cooperation between the Council and the Foundation in setting policies seeking to achieve the "New Kuwait" 2035 vision.

“This hackathon comes at a time when we are witnessing a global pandemic that requires more innovative and creative ideas to prepare us to deal with the post pandemic new situation.” added Dr. Mahdi. He called on participants in the hackathon to seize this opportunity to learn from the skills and expertise of the international trainers and lecturers participating in the hackathon.”

Commenting on this event, the Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of Agility Logistics, Mr. Tarek Sultan said that "there is a global acceleration towards the use of technology in all areas of life” adding that the conditions associated with the spread of the Covid- 19 pandemic have accelerated this trend.

“The ability to use digital capabilities in every daily life and operational aspect has become a reality and an approach for the future” added Mr. Sultan, indicating at the same time that the company's support to the launch of a virtual hackathon enhances the efforts made to find solutions to the challenges imposed by the Covid-19  pandemic in Kuwait, which is a very important objective for Agility.

On his part, Mr. Ahmad Marafi, CODED co-founder, said that this type of event seeks to highlight the talents of local programmers and designers by enabling them to use their creative talents and engage in an environment of productive competition.

“We aspire to effectively connect the government’s agencies and state institutions with the creative talents in the technology’s community in Kuwait and provide them with an opportunity to express their creativity and participate in developing distinctive systems and applications for government agencies using the latest programming languages and technological advancements for the benefit of the Kuwaiti society,” concluded Mr. Marafi.